rue story of a remarkable
CZatholic chaplain- 147/10 s&r-v&d in
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by DAISY" AMOURY
Almost everyone who reached the South
Pacific during the Second World War
had heard something of Father Law-
rence Lynch. And Father Lynch knew
by first name every soldier in his area.
Catholics, Protestants, Jews - they all
loved this dynamic chaplain from
He had his men in the palm of his
hand from the very beginning; when he
stepped to the; foot of the improvised
altar., stood there In uniform, legs
apart, square-set, arid said in a clear
distinct voice: "I'm Father Hawrence
lyyneh and I'm from Brooklyn. I'm
God's gift to the Army and to you guys
and if any man doubts that statement
I'll be glad to prove It - after Mass/'
When a belly laugh sounded from one
end of the chapel to the other, he said :
**Thanks. Now let's get down to the
business at hand. We're going to cele-
brate Holy Mass - that's what you're
The business at hand Included every-
thing from Mass to arranging Jewish
( 'confirmed on hacfc flap)
BY DAISY AMOURY
JULIAN MESSNER, INC.
New Yorfc, N. Y.
Published by Julian Messner, Inc.
8 West 40 Street, New York 18
Published simultaneously in Canada
by The Copp Clark Publishing Co. Limited
Copyright 1958 by Daisy Amoury
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 58-7845
This book is dedicated
to the memory of my parents
and in honor of
Whose hand is always on my shoulder
It was Glenn Kittler who first "introduced" me to Father
Lawrence E. Lynch, C.SS.R., two years after his death.
Later, when Kittler quipped: "Next time you commune with
Lynch's ghost, say hello for me," he could not hide the affec-
tion he had for his chaplain.
Without Kittler, and the others who made Father Larry
come alive for me, this book could not have been written.
Like Kittler, they were unstinting in their cooperation and
generous of their time, their personalities, their memories.
Kittler himself traveled from Norfolk, Virginia, to Wash-
ington, D.C., to spend a few brief hours with me, talking
"Larry" until I knew the man as intimately as Kittler had
Julius Klein, now Major General, flew from Chicago to
New York for the Memorial Mass, and later spent many
hours of his precious time talking about his "Rabbi Lynch."
Alvin E. Moscowitz was painstaking and meticulous in
recounting each detail of his recollection of his adopted
chaplain; it is to him I owe my thanks for the exacting ac-
curacy of the court-martial trials.
Father John T. Byrne was unfailing in his help as to de-
tails of those incidents which took place after Father Larry
left Noumea. He, more than any other, was close to the
priest at Espiritu Santo, working out the details of that in-
credible "Mission for the Division" which has become leg-
There are thanks due to many others Joseph Hart who
gave me the graphic story of Father Lynch's days on Oki-
nawa, and Dennis Claire who helped me to understand so
much of what actually happened that black night.
My thanks are due also to Rene de Chochor and James
Oliver Brown for their wise counsel and guidance and for
their never-failing patience.
But most of all, I owe my deep appreciation and warm
thanks to the entire Lynch family: to c< Mom" who never
cried for her Lala; to "Pop" who could not talk of his priest-
son, and particularly to Mary and her husband, James Carey*
who helped me to bridge the gap between Lynch, the so*a
and brother, and Captain Lynch, soldier-priest. Mary put at
my disposal the priceless documents and mementos Larry
had sent to her and without which I could never have known
the rounded character I have tried to present here.
New York, N.Y.
Lt. Col. Julius Klein cursed the rivers of sweat running
down his body, making his clothes stick uncomfortably to
him. He cursed the New Caledonian sun beating down on
his shack and the red dust seeping through the canvas-
covered window of his officehigh up over the hills of
Noumea. He cursed Glenn Kittler, the chaplain's assistant,
because he had not sent Father Lynch to the office as or-
dered. He cursed Father Lynch for not being there. He
cursed himself for the vague doubt that Lynch might not
be as pleased about his news as he was.
And he resisted a smile when at last the bareheaded
priest appeared, cap tucked into his belt, collar turned in-
side to hide all evidence of rank. Klein clenched his teeth
on the long, inevitable cigar; his sparse, graying hair was
tumbled, his thick-lensed glasses smoky from the sultry heat;
he was determined to be firm and angry.
"Father Lynch/' he snapped, "Didn't anybody ever tell
you we're in a war?"
"I heard rumors. You ever been to L'Anse Vata, Colonel
Julius? Gorgeous spot, swell beach. Road winds around
Ouen Toro. . . .**
"Didn't Kittler tell you I sent for you this morning?"
Lynch chuckled, and teetered back in Klein's chair.
"Glenn's mad at me too. You know, I think he's decided I'm
hopeless. Why don't you do that too, and then we can go
on from there!"
"You got something maybe," Klein grinned, then sobered.
"You trying to disrupt the whole Island Command? What's
the idea telling Rabbi Chapman he's gotta share his kosher
wine with you? With Passover coming up too!"
"It's only a temporary loan. And there's no law says we
can't use kosher wine for Mass."
"You know that's not what I mean," Klein retorted. "May-
be getting you assigned Chief of Chaplains for a group isn't
such a good idea at thatl"
The chair crashed forward. Lynch leaned over the desk,
eyes blazing. "I've been reassigned? I'm being shipped up?"
His face changed when he saw Klein's expression. "You got
the okay to reorganize the 523rd Group, Congratulations!
That should give you full colonel at the least!"
"Quit evading the issue. How do you feel about Chief of
"I'd drive you mad. Why you just said . . . Oh, by the
way, we're figuring on you heading up the Seder for the
Momentarily distracted from his objective by the ruse,
Klein's face flushed angrily. "Who the hell said the 42nd
was having a Seder? The Island Command is having a cele-
bration in the base hospital."
"To which more than a hundred men from the 42nd can't
go. So, since Moscowitz is Recreation Officer, and I'm
adopted Chaplain ..." A knock on the door, followed im-
mediately by Klein's secretary, stopped him.
"Sir, the liberty ship Elihu Thompson hit a mine. Navy
and Coast Guard rescue crews are out, but as Port Com-
mander, I thought you . . ."
Klein was no longer listening. He was halfway out the
door when he collided with Lynch. "Where the hell you
think you're going?" he barked. "I'll see you when I get
"I'm going with you," Lynch said.
"This is no place for you. The outside surf is heavy; we're
going in a crash boat. As port commander I gotta go, but
you'd better wait."
"As chaplain, that is where I belong," Lynch said.
"Father, I can't permit it. Believe me, it'll be bad."
"Then, 111 be badly needed and you're wasting precious
Gently, he pushed Klein ahead of him through the door.
The Elihu Thompson wallowed helplessly in heavy seas,
her nose already deep in the water; she was surrounded by
every type of rescue craft and crash boat some of them
scouting the waters for the bodies o dead or wounded,
others waiting on an outer rim for orders. Narrow rope lad-
ders hung like ugly ribbons down the slanting deck, some
of them held steady at the bottom by men in boats close by.
The port commander's crash boat eased between two
Coast Guard tugs, coming in close to the hulk of the stricken
ship. Klein did not see Lynch grab at die swinging rope
ladder; nor was he aware that the priest had left the boat
until he saw him, his collar turned outside showing both
his rank and calling, almost halfway up the ship's side. He
heard a sailor from above shout, "Better not try to board us,
sir! She's sinking fasti"
"Who's in command?" Klein shouted up at one of the tugs.
"Here!" came the authoritative voice of the Executive.
*Who the hell is that goddam maniac? Tell him to get down
"Chaplain, sir," Klein shouted, watching Lynch swing to
the deck above. "What do you want us to do, sir?"
"Stand by for bodies, Colonel." The reply was crisp. "Don't
attempt to board; and tell that padre to return to your boat
Klein knew it was a waste of breath to pass on the order;
Lynch had undoubtedly heard it too, but at that moment
the priest was steadying an injured MP over the side, get-
ting his foot on the top rung of the ladder.
"Colonel Julius!" he shouted down. "'Hold that ladder
The wounded soldier was barely in the crash boat when
the priest was helping another man whose arm hung limply
at his side. "You're not hurt bad, son," Lynches words came
down to Klein through the din. "What you need is a stiff
drink and a prayer. You say the prayer and . . . Heyl Colo-
nel Julius! Order a stiff whisky for this one/'
It was a nightmare of haste, yet, incredibly, almost no
confusion. Klein tried to recall afterwards exactly how many
times he saw Father Lynch appear at the top of the ladder
and then disappear after he started a wounded man down,
but it was impossible. He saw the priest try to help one last
man almost at the moment the stand clear whistle was
blown, saw the soldier crumple, and ordered Lynch to leave
Then he saw Lynch, an unconscious body over his shoul-
der, begin the precarious descent.
The other boats had pulled back, and Klein heard the
Executive's curse as his own crash boat moved off just in
time. The Elihu Thompsons stern lifted high and she shud-
dered as she took her last deep plunge and settled to her
grave, taking with her thirty-five men who, ironically, were
returning home from the front after a brief rest at Espiritu
Klein grabbed Lynch's arm and shook him. "Dammit all,
Father. You realize what could have happened in another
"Sorry, Colonel Julius/* the priest said. "Excuse me. IVe
got work to do."
Klein watched him move with difficulty in the pitching
boat; saw him stop for a quick look at each of the men he
passed, his look seeming to gauge their need. As he bent
over the man, his left hand searched out the dog tag, his
right either made the sign of the cross in benediction over
each prone figure or, If the small letter on die dog tag told
him the wounded man was not one who would value that
sign, the right hand touched his forehead gently.
"Padre!" It was barely a whisper, and it came from the
last man Father Lynch had brought down from the Elihu
The priest either guessed or felt the call instinctively,
Klein decided, It was almost impossible to have heard that
weak voice, yet Lynch looked up, moved swiftly, and stood
over the soldier, his hand searching out the dog tag. "I'm
right here, Jacob," he said.
The wounded man fought for breath, his face white and
drained, his eyes beginning to glaze. "Padre!" His voice
held a measure of relief. "Padre . . . will you . . . will
you . . ." It faded, but when Lynch touched his forehead
and said gently, "Tell me what you want, my son," Jacob
tried again. "Will you . . . ask the . . . rabbi . . I want
... the Yis ... Yisga . . *
"Would you like me to say it for you now, Jacob?"
The heavy eyes opened. *1 . . . want the ... the Yis
t r f ?*
... if ... if ...
Father Lynch leaned closer. He took both cold hands in
his own, holding them firmly, and the Jewish boy smiled as
the firm, vibrant, reverent voice intoned: "Yisgadal v'yiska-
dash sh'may rabbo, Volmo di v'ro chiroasay. . . /*
Lt Col. Julius Klein, descendant of a rabbinical family,
listened wide-eyed, oblivious of the moisture on his cheek.
He heard the great Hebrew prayer for the dead through to
the end; silently he watched the priest close the staring eyes
and lift the blanket to cover the young face.
Father Lynch straightened and faced Klein.
"How in the name of God . . ." Klein breathed, stopped
in an effort to control his shaking voice. "I ... I ...
where . . . you really meant it! When you told him ... I
thought. . . ."
"Did you think I'd lie to the boy?" Lynch asked in a low
voice, his lips tight.
"No. Oh, no. No. But . . . you . * /' Klein's impatience
was an effort to hide his emotion. "You're a Catholic priest
and that was Hebrew! I could understand if he'd been a
Protestant, but . . ."
"I'm a chaplain, Colonel Julius," Lynch said. "My first duty
is to be prepared and able to administer to the men I serve,
regardless of creed, particularly when, as now, I happen to
be the only chaplain present/'
"That . , . that's not what I meanl" Klein said, bewil-
dered. "You knew the prayer. You knew all of it. Why even
many rabbis couldn't . . . couldn't recite it like that . . .
"As a missionary, I was taught many things among them
the Hebrew ritual. Now, excuse me, please. There are others
waiting." He tried to turn, but Klein stopped him, a hand
on his arm.
"God bless you, Rabbi Lynch," he said. "You've done a
good job this day. That boy . . . his mother will bless youl"
Glenn Kittler heard parts of the story next day, and was
frankly incredulous. It didn't jibe with anything he knew
of Lynch, and his own irritation at the chaplain's manner
increased. Ever since Lynch's arrival on New Caledonia on
Christmas Eve in 1943 Kittler had tried with no success
to understand the man.
When he thought of the priest, words like rambunctious,
grandstander, show-off came instantly to his mind. He re-
sented the abrupt ending of those pleasant, indolent days
between the departure of the last chaplain gentle, easygo-
ing Father Svedas and the arrival of Father Lawrence
Lynch. He had had the use of the chaplain's jeep and he
spent many carefree, happy evenings with delightful people
in the town of Noumea who had become his good friends;
he had enjoyed picnics on the Plaine de Gaiac where the
beach was perfect. Life had been simple, uncomplicated.
And he had done his job. Every Sunday he wangled a
Navy chaplain from the base at the other end of the island;
he had even managed to line one up for Christmas Eve Mid-
night Mass just in case the troopship was delayed and the
chaplain didn't arrive. Later, when he learned that the
troopship had been in port for four hours before the chap-
lain appeared, he was irritated but not worried.
Kittler had cleaned the shack until it actually looked
clean despite the persistent red dust which defied even the
canvas covering over the windows, put there to keep it out.
He didn't hear the door open; he wasn't aware he had a
visitor until he felt a vigorous slap on his back and heard the
breezy: "Hi ya, Champ!" He straightened with a curse and
was about to confront the offender when the telephone
He snatched at it, barking, "Chaplain's quarters, Kittler
speaking." It didn't lessen his annoyance to be told that Lt.
Col. Klein, commanding officer of the 42nd QM Battalion
Mobile, wanted the chaplain at his office immediately.
So Klein was up to his old tricks. Kittler grunted. He'd
have to break this new chaplain in right, and right from
the beginning. It would be just like Klein to get hold of him
at once and try to have the chaplain and himself assigned
to the 42nd, but he-Kittler-wouldn't stand for that! Bad
enough being stuck here on this blasted island; at least be-
ing part of the Island Command relieved him of some of the
deadly routine of belonging to one outfit.
When he remembered his visitor he swung around, ready
to take up where he had been interrupted, but the soldier
had disappeared. Instead, Kittler bumped into Lt Alvin
Moscowitz, one of Klein's staff in the 42nd QM Battalion
"Where is he, Sarge?" Moscowitz wanted to know* He
looked harried; his round young face was shining with sweat.
"If you mean the chaplain, sir, he hasn't shown yet,"
"But he's got to be here!" Moscowitz said. "The troop-
ship cleared four hours ago; I know because I cleared it.
You don't just arrive in Noumea and . . . and vanish! He
arrived all right Unless I'm mistaken, he's the . . . he's the
guy stepped out of line and had to be ordered back. And
now he hasn't even checked with Operations. Somebody
ought to tell chaplains they're subject to regulations like
Kittler was aware of only one sentence: The troopship had
cleared four hours ago.
"Did you try the officers' club, sir?" he ventured. The chap-
lain's disappearance could be embarrassing and it put him
In a damned unpleasant spot; after all, part of his job was
knowing where his superior was at all times, particularly
when he was wanted.
"You trying to be funny, Sergeant?" Moscowitzfs look
warned him he'd better not be; a glance at his watch told
Kittler the lieutenant was right, of course. "Even the special
mess for the new arrivals finished two hours ago. I've
checked every . . ."
The telephone cut him off and Moscowitz waited while
Kittler answered it. Kittler suppressed a grin as he passed
the instrument to Moscowitz. "It's Colonel Klein, sir. He's
asking for you/'
Moscowitz took the instrument and Kittler moved away;
even so, he heard Klein's voice distinctly as it rasped harshly
through the phone: "He's here, AL And by God, you better
come on the double. Get over herel" That was all except
for the slam of the receiver.
Moscowitz rubbed his ear. "Now what?" he asked, ad-
dressing the question more to himself than to Kittler. He
didn't wait for an answer, but started to leave, reached the
door and stopped, looking back at Kittler. "Sergeant, you
got my sympathy. I think you're gonna need itl"
Kittler's face was grim; he had an uneasy feeling in the pit
of his stomach. He agreed with Moscowitz, but not for the
same reason. This time Klein wasn't going to take no; this
time it would be a fight to the death.
It never occurred to him that his fight would be with
Father Lawrence Lynch, his immediate superior!
Alvin Moscowitz drove his jeep with reckless fury out of
the town of Noumea toward the hills which led to the army-
squared section of the island assigned to the 42nd QM Bat-
talion Mobile, and in spite of the deeply gutted road with
its treacherous pools hidden by innocent-seeming mud
puddles, he made the trip in record time.
If anyone asked him, he was pretty fed up with this
elusive chaplain who wasn't any concern of the 42nd in the
first place. Moscowitz couldn't see why he had to go scout-
ing around after a man who didn't have the sense to check
in with Operations. The glare of the sun, alternating with
intermittent rain beating down on the newly cemented
docks at Finger Piers, had been bad enough, but added to
the job of supervising the unloading of troops and assigning
them to trucks for transportation to temporary bivouac, it
was enough to make a saint mad! And Moscowitz told him-
self he was no saint.
What he wouldn't give to be back in New York, high up
in his tiny office, surrounded by his newly acquired law-
books! This blasted business of being uprooted out of his life
and dumped on this Godforsaken island. . . . Still there
had been one break: his appointment as defense counsel on
the general court gave him a chance to work at his law a bit.
Not that the case of Mervin Jackson meant anything.
Jackson had already signed a confession; but that didn't
alter the fact that he had to prepare a case for the defense.
He swung the jeep to a vicious stop before the door with
the faded H.Q. sign tacked over it, got out and landed in
red mud, splashing his last pair of clean trousers. That made
three pairs he'd have to get washed: only God and the
laundry could guess if they'd ever get the red stuff off.
He didn't have to knock.
"Moscowitzr Lt. Col. Julius Klein barked, relief in his
face, his hair wild and disordered. "Thank God! Here. Meet
He had known it all along! It was the same man who had
broken ranks during the unloading; the same man he had
ordered: "Get the hell back in that line and stay there till
your name is called." How was he to guess that a soldier
whose cap was stuck in his belt, whose collar was turned
insideagainst regulations was a chaplain?
Moscowitz came as close to glaring as his round, pleasant
face permitted, but all he said was, "Father."
In the chair behind Klein's desk, tilted back so that his
head was against the wall, the priest looked at Moscowitz
and grinned sympathetically. He extended his hand. "Father
Lawrence Lynch of Brooklyn," he said. "How are you, Tex?"
Tex?" Klein gasped. "He's from Brooklyn tool"
"Is he?" Lynch registered surprise, then chuckled. "But it
don't show on him. Besides, I like Tex better. It fits him
'specially with that hat and the way he handled that un-
Rage was beginning to turn Klein's face purple. "I though!
you told me you hadn't seen him!" he accused Moscowitz.
"Why in ..."
"He didn't/' Lynch interrupted, adding, satto voce to the
lieutenant: "Always keep 'em guessing, Tex. Get 'em angry
or amused and you've got their guard down. If they don't
know what comes next you've got the upper hand. See? Now
about tonight . . ."
"Mad. That's what he is," Klein fumed. "Crazy as a loon!
Here I've been yelling my lungs out, begging for a chaplain
and look what I get."
"But you haven't, Colonel!" Lynch reminded him. "As I
understand it, I'm on general assignment to the Island Com-
mand, That right, Tex?"
Moscowitz looked from the priest to his commanding of-
ficer and shrugged. "He's right, Colonel."
"Thanks," Lynch said. "Now you'll come tonight, of course.
There's a kid named Goldstein came with us. He's got the
sweetest voice you've ever heard I'll bet a nickel on that.
He's going to lead the singing."
"Didn't I tell you he's mad?" Klein burst out. His cigar
bobbed up and down when he talked, and he paced from
door to window and back, both arms waving. "He's a maniac,
that's what he is. You know what he's done? He's committed
the entire staff to go to his Midnight Mass tonight! You, me,
everybody! Now you tell me what a Jewish officer'd be do-
ing in a Catholic church on Christmas Eve? Just you tell
Lynch Ignored all but the last two sentences. When Klein
finished he was on his feet, and though he was shorter than
Klein, he somehow appeared taller. His tone was quiet, yet
with an arresting quality which gave emphasis to every word
*Tm not asking you to do anything contrary to your own
faith or your beliefs. This night means much to a great many
of the men in your command; many others, to whom it means
nothing but a holiday, have promised to come and sing
Christmas carols. I have assured them that their officers not
only approve but will be there with them! As I see it, you
have no choice!"
Klein sputtered, but Moscowitz stopped the onslaught by
stepping between them. "Father, you've already voiced the
big objection. Most of the men will be off base, celebrating.
Most of them have passes.'*
"They'll be there," Lynch said. "And so will their officers,
including their C.O., if I've got to get a court order to get
"But why? For pete's sake . . ? Klein began.
"Let's say as a good example/' Lynch grinned, "Or, per-
haps, just to prove to the guys that the upper echelon ap-
proves of church on principle. Besides, I promise you it
won't hurt. And I know you'll enjoy the carols/*
*Tm sure of it/' Klein said, sarcastically.
Lynch nodded, accepting the statement at face value.
"And you, Tex? I can count on you, of course?"
*Hey, wait a minute!" Klein began. "I didn't say , . .**
"Better make it eleven-thirty, Colonel," Lynch said. "First
come first served and no seats reserved. We're using the
"In this rain?" Moscowitz asked.
"Oh, it'll clear/' Lynch said. "You U be there-and you'll
Moscowitz looked at Klein and waited. The officer
shrugged. "It seems we have no choice, Al," he said.
Glenn Kittler watched through the canvas curtain as the
bareheaded soldier, collar turned inside, got out of the jeep
driven by Moscowitz and headed for the office. He had not
remembered until that moment that Father Stearns, the Navy
priest who was coming to say the Midnight Mass, should
have been informed of the new chaplain's arrival. He de-
cided to wait until after the new chaplain's entrance to do
so; it was one way he could express his displeasure at the
treatment he had received.
Bad enough to keep him hanging around, wondering
what was happening; worse still to go to see Klein before
checking in. But when he thought of that backslapping af-
front, his face flushed.
He doused his cigarette and returned quickly to his desk,
glad he had a sheet of paper in the typewriter. He had de-
cided that a start would be appropriate when Lynch en-
tered, but it was genuine when he heard the chaplain's first
"It's a pretty small chapel for the whole 42nd Battalion
so well have to have the Midnight Mass in the amphi-
Kittler wasn't aware of standing. Til have to call Father
Steams," he heard himself say. "He was coming to say the
Mass, but now you're here. . . ."
Lynch chuckled. "Don't. As long as he doesn't know I'm
here. . . ."
Unwittingly, Kittler betrayed himself. "You think there's
anybody on the whole island doesn't know a Catholic chap-
lain arrived and vanished for four hours?"
"Feel you've been badly treated, Champ?" Lynch grinned.
"It's not that, Father," Kittler began, mollified in spite of
himself. "It's only that . . ."
"Forget it," Lynch said. "On second thought, call Father
Stearns. Tell him I'd appreciate it if he'd say the Mass at
the amphitheater. And pass the word around: Christmas
carols will begin at eleven-thirty."
"Yes, sir," Kittler said. "Anything else?"
"Sure," the priest nodded, head cocked in what Kittler was
to learn was a characteristic mannerism. "Plenty. But right
now I've got things to do."
He left as quickly as he had come, but Kittler watched
him go into the chapel before he picked up the telephone
to call the Naval base.
Father Lawrence Lynch stood inside the chapel and took
stock of his surroundings. It was no different from other
army chapels except that it was smaller, and the floor, espe-
cially near the partition which separated the altar from the
sacristy, was warped and uneven. The altar itself was noth-
ing but a long table on a platform, to the right of which was
a small table placed there for the use of Catholic priests
All the lightness of step, the assurance, and the swagger-
ing impudence were gone now as the priest knelt at the
foot of the altar. His eyes picked out the American flag in
one corner; slowly, his dark head bent in prayer.
"O Lady of Perpetual Help-by that name I beg you,
help me to do the Will of my God and My Lord. Beloved
Mother, show me the way to do what I have been sent here
to do. You know what I want, my Mother, Yet it is not my
will, but the Will of your Beloved Son which must be
obeyed; teach me to obey, to say with sincere humility, as
He said: "Thy Will be done, O Godl"
"Your Beloved Son can refuse you nothing. Ask Him to
look with favor on my prayers and with pity on my weak-
nesses; ask Him to make me strong, always right in His
work; ask Him to show me the way to be all things to all
men, to know, understand, and love these men to whom I
have been sent; ask Him to teach me how to make them
know and love you, my Mother, as I do, so that in time of
need they will tarn to you by that name which you, your-
self, have given us, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
"My Lady of Perpetual Help, with you by my side, I can-
not fail. Help me now, as you have helped me all the days
of my life. I need you more than I have ever needed your
help so that I can be I must be the finest chaplain in the
finest army in the world. Help me, Lady of Perpetual Help.
Help me to do better than my best, for the greater glory of
your Beloved Son, my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."
He knelt still for a moment, made the sign of the cross
and stood up, shoulders straight, face alight.
He turned to leave the chapel and a subtle change came
over him. The jaunty swagger returned to his walk, that
calm insouciance appeared in the lift of his head. It was as
if he deliberately masked all the warmth and reverence
within himself, hiding the depth of feeling, the love which
was part and parcel of his vocation.
The amphitheater used by the whole 42nd QM Battalion
Mobile for such things as movies, shows and general gath-
erings of all kinds was an old, deep quarry two miles outside
the town of Noumea. High up in the center of the quarry,
on a raised platform not unlike a boxing ring, a long table
had been set up and covered by a white altar cloth on which
a crucifix and candles had been placed. To the right of it a
smaller table held the tiny wine and water jugs and the
small finger bowl for use during the Mass.
As Lynch had predicted, the rain had stopped and the
night was clear. Stars hung low so many and so close that
they made the darkness lighter, seeming to outline the
benches around the circle of the quarry.
Kittler arrived a few minutes after eleven with the vest-
ments and a folding table to put them on. His annoyance at
the priest was renewed. Lynch had gone off with the jeep,
leaving him to choose between an army truck loaded with
men and walking. Laden as he was, it didn't make for
"Where do you usually set out the vestments?** Lynch
asked, and when Kittler showed him, the chaplain shook his
head. "No. Put the table there out front where all the men
can see it. I'm going to hear confessions. When Father
Stearns gets here, tell him to take that other confessional box
over there. After you've laid out the vestments, get up front
and let the guys know we're waiting/'
Off to one side of the quarry Lynch had arranged two
small, roped-off sections each with a screen. He went to the
one he had indicated and sat behind the screen waiting. He
didn't have long to wait, and Kittler didn't have to let any-
body know. Before he finished arranging the vestments, a
long queue of men had formed outside the section where
the priest sat.
The men drifted in slowly at first, but gradually the
benches began to fill. By half -past eleven even those benches
with canvas backs, usually reserved for officers during a
show, were filled, and when all the benches were filled men
squatted down wherever there was any available space
even to the rocky sides, aisles, and tree stumps on the outer
rim of the arena.
At precisely eleven-thirty, two things happened simul-
taneously. Glenn Kittler's eyes opened in shocked surprise
when he saw Lt. Col. Julius Klein, closely followed by Lt.
Alvin Moscowitz, edging their way through one of the nar-
row aisles. The men on the front seats moved closer to each
other to make room for them.
At the moment of their appearance, the glorious voice of
"a guy named Goldstein'' a clear, trained tenorbegan to
sing "It came upon the midnight clear . . .* and before he
started the chorus, he commanded: "Now, everybody!" and
the singing slowly increased in volume as more and more
voices joined in.
Father Stearns had arrived and gone to the second confes-
sional, and the lines of men kept moving and forming before
The unseen voice led the men through most of the better-
known Christmas carols. But, as if by common consent, the
men did not join the voice when it lifted into the beautiful
The two priests came forward together. Father Stearns
made no move to don his vestments, waiting instead while
Lynch stepped to the edge of the platform. Lynch stood
there until the last note had died.
He spoke then, his voice clear and distinct enough to
carry to the outermost edge of the arena.
"I am Father Lawrence Lynch and I'm from Brooklyn!"
It had a pseudo-defiance, a suggestion of swagger which had
the effect he obviously expected. A chuckle began, spread
rapidly, billowed into a full laugh. Lynch waited until it
began to fade, then like an actor taking his cue: "I'm God's
gift to the army and to you guys!" and again the laugh
spread, easier this time and faster.
Now,, at the exact moment when he knew his audience was
with him, Lynch began to talk to them. He spoke quietly,
almost to each man individually.
"There are some of you guys here who won't understand
what's happening up here, but that's okay. All you've got to
do is pray as you'd pray in your own church. But that's not
to say you won't be interested in what's going on.
"Father Stearns of the Navy will celebrate the Mass, Be-
fore he begins, there's a lot even Catholics should know and
I'll bet a nickel there are some right here who couldn't ex-
plain why a priest wears all those vestments, for example.
Well, it's time we all knew why and it won't hurt you non-
Catholics to know either.
"Father Stearns will begin to put on his vestments, and
while he does, well talk about them a little. First, as to the
why. Every one of them is a symbol, a symbol of service to
God." He picked up the amice and held it high. "This, for
example. It's just a piece of linen, and it is called an amice:
A-M-I-C-E. Jesus was blindfolded, and the amice represents
that blindfold. Okay, Father.''
He extended the amice to Father Stearns who put it on.
"Herod placed a garment on Jesus to make a fool of Him.
You remember thatl This white robe white to signify purity
is an alb: A-L-B, and the alb is symbolic of that garment.
Incidentally^ there are six colors used by the church and
each one of them is significant: white for purity and joy, red
for blood and fire, green is the symbol of hope, violet for
penance. . . ."
Glenn Kittler's attention wandered. He knew all this; he
had been a seminarian before he was drafted. Now he was
interested in the reactions of these men. They listened! All
of them leaning forward, intent on what the priest was say-
ing, liking it.
At last Father Stearns was ready, but Lynch wasn't fin-
"Now, we're ready to begin the Mass, but first, there's
something I want you to know. That golden, God-given
voice you guys have been listening to belongs to Isadore
Goldstein. I think we should give him a hand. What about
The applause was instant. Lynch nodded. "I knew you'd
feel that way," he said when it began to die. "Any ques-
tions?" He waited, grinned. "I've got to hand it to you! Tve
been hearing that this is the swellest outfit on the island; I
didn't believe it, but youVe confirmed it; and when I see all
you Catholic men at the communion rail, 111 be sure of it. Ill
be in the confessional if there's anybody hasn't been yet.
God bless you and keep you happy always."
To the men who were there, it was unforgettable, and
when Isadore Goldstein's voice began the immortal "Adeste
Fidelis," their eyes were bright with unshed tears.
Silently, after the Mass, the men drifted off into the star-
lit night. At the edge of the amphitheater, Klein stopped and
looked over his shoulder. Kittler, standing by waiting for a
lift back to town, heard him say, as if to himself: *Tm glad I
didn't miss that!" And close beside him, Moscowitz an-
swered, "So am I."
Kittler shook his head, wondering at their attendance. It
confirmed his worst fears; Klein wanted to see Lynch in
operation before putting in for him. Well, he saw him. If
that wasn't a show! His interpretation of Lynch and Lynch's
motives were also confirmed, and Glenn Kittler didn't ap-
Of course Lynch would take advantage of his priestly
privilege of saying three Masses tomorrow Christmas Day.
And sure as sure, he'd start the first one at some ungodly
hour, six o'clock probably, before a man had a chance to get
a decent breakfast.
This thought brought him face to face with what could
be the one bright star in a gloomy sky. Now that there was a
new chaplain on base, McCarthy might relent. He could
even put up with Lynch for eggs cooked by Dejeune on
Sunday mornings instead of the glutinous mess, cold and
scrambled, he had had since Father Svedas left. The trouble
was getting the precious eggs from the chief cook; you'd
think they were diamonds the way McCarthy hoarded them.
And the way Dejeune cooked eggs . . . Kittler's mouth wa-
tered in pleasant anticipation.
He woke with the morning sun streaming through his
window and lay still, listening. His watch said eight-fifteen!
Either the new chaplain had overslept, which Kittler
doubted, or Fogarty was on hand to serve. Odd they hadn't
called him. Not that it mattered; Frank Fogarty had helped
him serve Masses for Father Svedas.
The thought of his former chaplain reminded him of his
determination to tackle McCarthy. He moved swiftly, dress-
ing with no waste motion, and headed for the cookshack.
McCarthy was having another cup of coffee; Kittler couldn't
remember ever seeing him without a cup of coffee.
"Merry Christmas, Mac." He sounded bright and cheery.
"Merry hell," McCarthy grunted. "And 'tis no use what-
ever atall wastin* your time or mine in pretty words this
mornin*. I ain't got one extra egg for nobody this day. Fur-
thermore, there ain't one left in the whole o' New Caledonia,
and from now on in, there ain't never gonna be no eggs for
no padres and their servers on Sundays."
The finality of it was discouraging, but Kittler wasn't to
be beaten so easily when his own personal desires were con-
cerned. He tried a new tack.
"We got us a new chaplain, Mac. And he's terrific. You
shoulda been at that Mass last night; why he had the guys
eating right out of his hand! Besides, it's Christmas!"
McCarthy continued to sip his coffee, completely un-
moved. Kittler tried again.
"Be reasonable, Mac. Am I asking you to cook them?
After all, if a fancy chef like Dejeune is willing . . ."
It was wrong and he knew it immediately. McCarthy got
up and put his cup down emphatically. "And who the bloody
hell is Dejeune? Jest because he happened to be a fifth-rate
cook for one of them fancy hotels don't make him nobody.
Dejeune!" he spat. "As if that sissy Frenchie knows anything
about cooking! Why, if I wanted to cook, eggs or anything
else, b'gosh, I'd show him."
"But I couldn't ask you to do that, Mac! With all the work
you do around here/'
"That's no lie. If they'd give a guy some help in this
damned army, but no. You got to get raw rookies and teach
'em, and soon's you get 'em trained, they steal 'em away and
ship 'em to another outfit. Now, if I was running this
thing. . . /'
Kittler had heard all this many times. He wasn't going to
let it defeat him now, but he had no intention of letting it
go on and on.
"You're absolutely right, Mac. And it's because I know
how busy you are that I asked Dejeune to cook the eggs for
us. I couldn't ask you to waste your good time like that."
"No eggs," McCarthy said, picking up his cup again.
"Make it four, Mac," Kittler pleaded. "Two for the padre
and one each for Fogarty and me. We've gotta eat! And the
last Mass won't be over until . . ."
"Don't be afther givin' me no sob story," McCarthy
snapped. "There'll be no more eggs every Sunday for no chap-
lain and no servers. If you want eggs Sundays, you get here
for regular mess call and eat eggs like everybody else/' Hav-
ing said his say, he could afford to be interested. "Hey, I
hear this guy's Irish and he comes from Brooklyn."
Kittler changed his method of attack. "Mac, you never
met anybody like him, ever! He's really a great guyone of
the best. And you should hear him boast about coming from
Brooklyn." He chuckled. "God's gift to the Army and you
guysl That's what he told the fellows, and they swallowed
it, every word. Pity a guy like that can't get a decent break-
fast on Christmas morningafter saying three Masses too.
He's a right guy and Irish? Why he's as Irish as ... as
. . . you are!"
McCarthy nodded, interested. "I'll have to meet up with
him. He sounds all right/'
"And how'll you feel when he thanks you for the eggs?
Swell, is all. I tell you, he's got a way with him."
"Guess maybe I gotta make an exception, but only be-
cause it's Christmas, mind. But if you think any Frenchie's
gonna louse up my good eggs I hadda scrounge all over
Noumea t' get so's I could make ice cream on account of it's
Christmas, you're crazy."
Kittler moved quickly, his elation tempered by fear of
what McCarthy would do with the eggs and tihie knowledge
of what Dejeune could do with them. "You're a pal, Mac,
but I couldn't ask you to stop what you're doing just to fix
us eggs. But thanks. Thanks a lot." He scooped up six eggs
and was halfway out of the door when McCarthy yelled.
"Hey! I thought you said four!"
"It's Christmas, Mac. Christmas! See you."
He hurried off to find Dejeune, elated at his success
never dreaming that he wouldn't taste the eggs at all.
The army technical manual for chaplains is quite specific
as to the duties and qualifications of the chaplain's assistant:
he must be "a man of integrity, commanding the respect of
officers and men, pleasant and obliging, neat and gentle-
manly, malting a good appearance at all times."
Further along in the manual, additional requirements are
stated. The chaplain's assistant must be skilled in operating
office equipment and motion picture machines, he must
play an instrument and lead in singing, assist at services and
be acquainted with the necessary items for properly con-
ducting services of faiths other than his own. He should
know how to pitch and strike a tent, drive and repair a car,
have not less than a high school educationpreferably col-
legeand, among other things, know fully ten different
But there was nothing in the manual to teach Glenn Kit-
tier how to cope with Father Lawrence E. Lynch of Brook-
Courtesy requires that the assistant wait until the priest
has finished his last Mass and said his prayers of thanksgiv-
ing before having his own breakfast. Kittler had already set
up a small table in the "office" as he had been in the habit
of doing for Father Svedas. As usual it was set for three,
since obviously, Frank Fogarty would have to eat with them
as he had always done before.
In the center of the table, covered now to keep them
warm, was the dish of cooked eggs . . . eggs as only De-
Jeune could fix them, eggs which had become tradition in
the exclusive hotel and to the epicurean clientele of that
hotel made famous by Dejeune; eggs such as Kittler had
not had in months!
Kittler was proud of his achievement both in getting the
eggs and getting Dejeune to cook them, but most of all, he
was looking forward to eating them again. When Lynch sat
at the table at last, Kittler lifted the cover with a flourish, and
waited for the priest to express his appreciation,
Larry Lynch looked at the eggs, glanced at his assistant,
then sat down, pulled the platter to him, and began eating
with gusto. "Gosh, Tm starved/ 7 he mumbled, mouth full.
"They sure grow eggs small around here, But these taste
Fogarty, standing near Kittler, moved forward, but
stopped, his mouth open to speak. Kittler glared. He wanted
to stomp out of the shack but could not.
"In f act," Lynch was saying, "these taste near as good as
my Mom's and thafs saying plenty. She used to appreciate
good eggsl Sometimes we said she thought more of eggs
than of . . " He stopped, laughed, started again: <C I re-
member when I was nine and the kids wanted waffles. I was
the oldest and my sister, Mary you'd love Mary she's ter-
rific. Even Mary didn't approve really of four eggs in the
batter. And when she saw the pile of waffles left after we'd
stuffed ourselves to bursting/' He laughed again, seemingly
wholly oblivious of the antagonism of his audience.
Fogarty looked stunned. From infancy, he had been
schooled to think of priests as beings set apart, superior to
other mortals, incapable of doing anything which was not
Lynch, now more than halfway through the platter of
eggs, ignored both men and continued his story. "I think it
was Mary's idea hiding what was left over under the bath-
tub, but what a whaling I got when Mom found them a
month later hoary with mold! You see, it was Mary's chore
to keep that bathroom clean and . . ." He stopped abruptly,
contritely, as if suddenly aware of the two men who stood
"Say! I'm sorry. Of course I should've asked you to have
somel They were really swell. Fact is, I figgered you'd rather
have your breakfast at the beach it being Christmas and
all. I've been hearing about a right nice beach called the
Plaine de Gaiac."
Stony silence from Kittler, and an embarrassed shuffle
from Fogarty, but Lynch pretended not to notice either.
'1 heard the guys talking about it. Said the swimming was
good and some good spots for food up there. Quite a resort,
"Sure," Kittler snapped, goaded beyond prudence. "It's
well known around here. Not far either. Only take a couple
of weeks to walk there."
His bitterness gave Fogarty the courage he needed. "A
nice, hot, long walk not much more 'n a coupla sixty miles
"Really?" Lynch was amazed. "You mean youVe actually
tried it?" Fogarty shuffled again, but Kittler only glared.
"Seems kind of silly to me to waste time talking when there's
a jeep outside all tanked up and ready to roll,"
It was Fogarty who picked it up. Kittler's eyes narrowed in
suspicion as he studied the priest closely, wondering what
the man planned now.
"You mean your jeep, Father?"
"Somebody might as well get the benefit of it," Lynch
shrugged, pouring himself another cup of coffee, so busy
that he did not see Fogarty nudge Kittler toward the door
as if afraid the priest might change his mind. "I've got things
to do and I won't be needing it today, but of course if you'd
rather not . . ."
They were at the door when he called: "Oh, Glenn! Thanks
for the eggs. They really were swell."
"He sure is a peculiar guy, ain't he, Eat?" Fogarty asked
as he climbed into the jeep.
"What do you mean peculiar?" Kittler grunted, starting
"Like them eggs. You know, I think he did that deliber-
"You think?" Kittler said. "If you re talking about the way
he gobbled 'em up, where d'you get that 'think' stuff? He
knew as well as we did they weren't all six for him."
"Sure. But that ain't what I mean. Seems like he figgered
maybe he'd give us the jeep but on account of he couldn't
do it for no reason, he made us mad first so*s he could sort
of make it up like/*
"Nuts, he didn't even think about the jeep till he was al-
"Could be," Fogarty said. "But seems like he's tryin' to
start out right with us is what I mean/*
"Well, he's sure doing his damnedest to start out on the
wrong foot, at least with me/' Kittler pressed the accelerator
and made a sharp turn into the road leading toward the
beach. "If he had a reason, he managed to hide it all right,
till he hit on this idea of the jeep/'
Fogarty shook his head. "I dunno, Kit. I got me an idea
when this padre does things, he does 7 em on account of he's
got a reason/*
"Have it that way if you want/* Kittler said, "but it won't
make me feel any better about those eggs."
Alvin Moscowitz pushed to one side the stack of papers
spread out before him and scowled at the clock on his desk.
It was one of those fancy gadgets given to him just before he
sailed, and it showed, in addition to the hour and the date,
a notation of the holiday: "Christmas Day 1943/'
The small shack was steaming. A wave of nostalgia swept
over Moscowitz . . . Christmastime in New York! Shops
filled with people, glittering lights, a cold snap in the air,
maybe even some dirty snow or slush underfoot.
Nothing of Christinas here. Not even a feeling of war
they were so far from any fighting. Just deadly monotony
and the sun.
The hopelessness of trying to build a defense for Jackson
added to his depression. It was so futile, yet the man had to
be defended. That damning confession which Jackson now
insisted was a lie. Was it signed under duress? Was Jackson
innocent as he tried to make his defense counsel believe?
Moscowitz sighed. He almost wished he knew less of what
happened when a suspected criminal was arrested by the
MP's. Or that he knew Jackson better.
Alvin Moscowitz did not hear Lynch come in. When the
priest spoke, he jumped up, startled.
"Not bad, Tex. Not bad atall," Lynch said, casually sur-
veying the small room.
"Good morning, Father. I'm sorry, I didn't hear you
"I didn't," Lynch grinned. "Got an office all to himself,
cosy and snug, and just because I pop in without knocking,
he acts like he's been caught in the act. What gives?"
Moscowitz laughed. "You startled me, Padre. I wasn't ex-
pecting a visitor. I've been trying to work but this
heat . . ."
Larry Lynch nodded sympathetically. "That, and the fact
that you're having trouble with your case?"
"You . . . know about that?"
"Oh, I get around," Lynch said. "You know, Tex, it's really
amazing how just talking a thing out can help to clarify the
issues involved. What about it? You feel like talking?*'
Moscowitz hesitated. "It's no use, Padre. These past weeks
Tve talked to every man in Noumea who was anywhere near
Jackson that night. It was like boxing with a blindfold on.
Tve been investigating officer for some time now, but this
case . . . IVe sweated out the damn thing . . . excuse me,
"Skip it. Now let's get down to essentials." Lynch, sitting
on a camp stool, stretched out his legs, lit a cigarette and
asked, "What* re you trying to do, Tex? You've thought your-
self out of your sense of perspective. It's time you shifted
some of the load to other shoulders. I hear tell the charge is
assault and battery."
Technically, at first. But the Kanaka died, so that makes
it assault and battery with intent to kill, and that's murder.''
Lynch sat up straight. "Ouch! Not even manslaughter?''
"Manslaughter precludes malice. In this case, the intent
was to kill, according to Jackson's own signed confession."
"What about the weapon?"
"The Kanaka was stabbed six times. When the MFs
picked up Jackson, he had the knife in his hand. That, and
the confession he signed, looks open and shut,"
"But you don't believe it. That's it, Tex?"
Moscowitz looked at the priest and nodded. "I keep tell-
ing myself the confession must be true, that if s a hopeless
case . . . and all the while, I know it's not. Jackson told me
he'd signed it 'because the MP's made him do it* ... but
I could find no indication of duress. And believe me, Padre,
if Jackson had one sign of duress on his person, I'd have
"Suppose there wasn't. Jackson has, I take it, repudiated
the confession. Is it possible that he did sign it under one
form of duress or another?"
"Almost anything is possible, Father. But I'd say this would
be highly improbable/* Moscowitz leaned forward. "Besides,
in addition to the confession, there's the knife/*
"The knife?" Lynch sat up straight. "What about the
"Jackson was arrested almost immediately after the stab-
bing. The arresting officer reported that his knife had blood
"Whose blood?" Lynch asked.
"The Kanaka's, presumably."
"Are you telling me it wasn't tested?"
Moscowitz shrugged. "With a signed confession, plenty
of opportunity, and a bloody knife at the scene of the crime,
Father, the prosecution thinks so little of Jackson's possible
innocence, they didn't even bother to have it tested."
"But they'll enter it in evidence?"
"Naturally," Moscowitz said. "It's the crux of their case/'
Lynch leaned over the desk. "Tex, you're unhappy about
that knife. Why? And why haven't you demanded a test of
it?" He waited a moment then went on. "Are you afraid?"
"I can't jeopardize my client's one small chance, Father.
If Jackson is innocent "
"A man is innocent until proven guilty," Lynch quoted
softly. "You're not convinced he is innocent, is that it?"
"To tell the truth, I'm not sure. But I'll say this, Father.
If I can't prove to myself the innocence of this man, 111 ask
to be withdrawn from the case."
"Which brings us back to the signed confession. Tex, you're
investigating officer of the battalion?'*
Moscowitz looked at Lynch, surprised at die shift. "Yes.
"As such, youVe seen a good many arrests, 111 bet."
"I don't see what . . ."
"Did you ever see an arresting MP handle a prisoner with
"You're a bit off the course, Padre,'' Moscowitz said.
"Sometimes, especially when a man's been drinking, making
an arrest can be a dangerous business."
"Right. But let's face it. The boys can play rough, espe-
cially if they're convinced of a man's guilt, and need a con-
fession to cinch it."
"All right Now what?"
"Now you tell me Jackson has repudiated his confession,
but it's his word against that of the MP's who got the con-
fession. Did you ask him about the knife?" Moscowitz
nodded, waiting. "Did Jackson admit he'd used it to you,
"He denied it emphatically. This is one reason I'm not
quite convinced he's not innocent. He sounded truthful."
Moscowitz got up and began pacing the small office. "If I
could convince myself he & innocent . . ."
"The knife might prove it," Lynch said.
"It might also do the reverse," Moscowitz said. He stopped
before Lynch, in his expression a mixture of stubborn pride,
pity, and disdain for the priest's lack of comprehension.
"Without an official report by an expert, I can cast doubt on
bloodstains. With a lab test and report-heck, Padre, if Jack-
son cut his own finger six months ago playing mumblety-
peg, and one speck of his own blood showeddon't you see
what it could do to his case?"
Lynch was silent for a moment. Then he nodded. "YouVe
got a point there." He cocked his head, mulling over the
matter. Then he asked, "What about Jackson? Tell me about
"What do you want to know? He's from Kentucky, a young
Negro with little education. . . ."
"No." Lynch brushed it aside. "What about his character?
The man himself . . . his record?"
"Here's his record," Moscowitz said, pulling it out of a
sheaf of papers. "A clean record, Padre. Not even a D-and-D
charge for three years in the army. This time: drunk and dis-
orderly, assault and . . ." He stopped, pushed the papers
away impatiently. "If he hadn't signed that blasted confes-
"How well do you know Jackson, Tex?"
"Not half as well as I'd like to. I know he's scared. When
he tries to tell me he signed the confession under duress, he
gets so worked up he's almost inarticulate. I saw him that
same day. There was no evidence of any rough stuff."
Lynch hunched his shoulders, leaning forward. "The for-
est and the trees? You're too close to the whole business.
YouVe been stewing over it too long. And when you talk
with your client, you worry and fret over him so much."
Moscowitz grinned slightly. "What are you trying to sell
me, Father Larry?"
"It's a bit difficult for you to make a fair estimate of Jack-
son's character, and yet, you can't reconcile the man's record
with the confession he signed. Add to that the knowledge
that only by testing the knife can you prove to yourself
Jackson's positive innocence or guilt it's no wonder you find
it difficult to know your client. You're about to send me on
a mission, Lieutenant."
"It's difficult to see what can be accomplished."
"Are you willing to admit your personal interest in this
man makes it difficult for you to judge his character?"
"To a certain extent, yes."
"Would you be willing to accept my judgment of Jackson?
Wait, Tex. You've admitted you hesitate to have that knife
tested because it could seal your client's fate. Now I want to
knowif after I've talked with your client, my estimate of
the man forces you to take that risk . . . ?" He watched
Moscowitz through narrowed eyes.
Moscowitz raised his head after a moment of silence,
looked straight at Lynch and nodded. "I believe I would,
"Good," Lynch said. "Now, when did you last see Jack-
"This morning. I had to explain the rules; the meaning and
effect of pleading guilty, his right to testify or refuse, to make
a statement or not, to oh, all the stuff the manual says a
prisoner has a right to know before . . ."
Lynch was on his feet. "I'll be seeing you, Lieutenant."
A narrow-gauge railway connected Paita with Noumea,
but trains on it were few and those which ran were slow.
The alternative was a long, tortuous road around a moun-
tain with straight cliffs on one side and a sheer drop to the
sea on the other. Forty miles from town, this road wound
inland through dense jungles and finally onto a broad plain.
Swaying white naoli trees and broad-leaved banana plants
gave a graceful, leafy beauty to the stockade that once had
been a native village but now housed U.S. Army prisoners
and Japanese prisoners of war. The buildings were of native
origin, with whitewashed mud walls and thatched roofs.
Great ferns and twisted, knotted shrubs twined over some,
adding an air of coolness and repose, an atmosphere of peace
and restful shade.
Such was the stockade of Paita.
Here a prisoner's inalienable rights included three square
meals a day, specified time off for recreation, specified time
off for rest, no more than an eight-hour workday and all Sun-
days free . . . from work at least.
There was a chapel at Paita, a lovely, pleasant little place,
spotlessly clean, restfully cool. The sizzling heat of down-
town Noumea could not penetrate here; an old bamboo
altar, built long ago by French missionaries, had many floral
decorations, as had the whitewashed stone-paved walls.
At the foot of tills altar, Larry Lynch knelt, dark head
bent low in prayer.
"Beloved Mother of Perpetual Help, here I am once
again in supplication, begging help for one of your children.
Show me the way to help this boy; give me the right words
so that I may learn the truth and help him to face it with
courage. Teach me how to reach him, to make him know
that you and I together can help him. It may be that this is
the reason your Beloved Son has placed me here; He can
refuse you nothing, my Mother. Ask Him to look with favor
on my work, to guide my words and rny steps, to give me
strength and understanding.
"My Lady of Perpetual Helpby that name you call your-
self, I call on you now. I need your help that I may help
this boy to know you and to love you, and through you, that
he may come to know and adore your Divine Son, my Lord
Jesus Christ, as I do. Amen/'
He made the sign of the cross and stood, shoulders
squared, face alight. Outside the chapel, the confident
swagger returned. His step was light and quick as he walked
into the sunlight.
Mervin Jackson did not move from the stool on which he
sat and did not, at first, look up at his visitor. But when his
eye caught sight of the captain's bars on LyncKs outturned
collar, Mervin Jackson rose Immediately, standing at atten-
tion, eyes bloodshot, staring straight ahead.
"Sit down, Mervin," Lynch said gently. The soldier looked
directly at him, and in so doing, saw the tiny cross on his
lapel. He stiffened and remained standing. "Mind if I visit
with you a spell?" Lynch asked.
"I don't want no padre," Jackson said sullenly. "I ain't
been sentence yet/'
Lynch moved closer, put one hand on the man's shoulder,
gently forced him back to the stool. "Feeling mighty sorry
for yourself, aren't you?"
"I don't want no padre."
"Just as easy to feel sorry for yourself sitting as standing,"
the chaplain said. "You're getting a rough deal, aren't you,
"I don't want no padre," Jackson repeated.
Lynch nodded. "Can't say I blame you. Say, I read that
confession you signed. What'd you want to do a thing like
that for when it's a lie?"
Surprise caused the black head to jerk upward, forcing
the sullen antagonism momentarily into the background. It
was followed by suspicion and fear, and Jackson opened his
mouth with * C I don't . . ." but Lynch stopped him with a
"I know. You don't want no padre. But what I want to
know is why you signed that paper. You don't look like a
guy would use a knife on anybody not even a Kanak."
"I ain't use no knife on nobody," Jackson snapped, lips
clamping shut on the words.
Lynch smiled. "That's what I figured. So why did you say
in the confession you did? Lieutenant Moscowitz says you
told him it's not trueand I know it's not true because you
can't lie to me. Nobody can lie to me, Mervin/'
The Negro might not have heard, he showed so little in-
terest. He sat still, leaning forward, chin on his hand, staring
at the floor.
"When 1 was twelve years old," Lynch said, conversation-
ally, "a girl in my school nearly got kicked out because an-
other girl said the first one had beat her up, hurt her, and
tore off her dress. Even her own mother didn't believe her
when she said it wasn't true, but I did. She looked into my
eyes- and I knew she couldn't lie to me. So we went back to
the school, and we got that other kid before the teacher and
she had to admit she had been the one who lied/'
Mervin Jackson glanced at the priest, returned his gaze to
the floor, sullen once again.
"All youVe got to do is tell the truth, Mervin, and stick to
It. But youVe got to stick to it. Now, look at me/*
The Negro looked up and into the dark eyes of the priest.
He was not aware that he appraised the man who had come
to see him or that he judged this stranger. He was not con-
scious of having made any decision about Father Lynch, but
the priest knew, and knowing, smiled gently.
"All right, Mervin. Let's have itfrom the beginning/'
"I ain't mucha a-muchness on no church atall," Jackson
said, but Lynch merely waited, and the soldier went on.
"We wuz drinkin' beer in town, me and a gang from the
platoon. We coulda been a mite high, and when we come
back to the truck, the Kanaks standin' by begin makin* dirty
cracks like they does. Us guys wasn't gonna let no Kanaks
get by with that, so we crack right back. Then one of them
throw a rock at Rodriquez.
"Ev'body know Rod's my buddy; we been together since
we-all hit basic, and when I see him all over blood . . I
git mad. I grab my knife, open it ... and them Kanakas
run off! You ever see Kanaks fade in the dark? Wasn't more'n
a second and they was all gone.
<c We follow themfive of us. Me and another guy catch
onebut when I see he ain't the one throwed the rock, I turn
back. I figger Rod's hurted bad, but he weren't there.** The
toneless recital stopped briefly, then went on.
"While I was in the lockup, I hear tell one of our fellers
catch the Kanak threw the rock on'y he was so big he beat
up our guy somethin' fierce. So then the soldier used his
knife. Couple other guys from the platoon got him away
from therebut I didn't know a Kanak was kilt.
"So after I see Rod's gone, I started outa the bushes. I sea
them MP's comin', but I didn't know they wuz gonna pick
me up. I ain't done nothin'. So help ine, that's ail-as I know.
I come walkin* outa the bushes and they grab me. I didn't
know nothin* 'bout no dead Kanak. I ain't done nothin',
Lynch said nothing for a few moments after that quiet
voice stopped. At last the bloodshot eyes in the dark, tor-
tured face looked up at the priest. Lynch merely nodded,
extending his pack of cigarettes.
They sat smoking companionably. Mervin Jackson had
lost some of his sullen despondency. The priest studied him
without appearing to do so, searching for an approach to
the questions he wanted answered, an approach which would
not make the Negro crawl back into his silence.
"The MP*s reported there was blood on your knife," he
said. It was a flat statement to be answered or not as Jack-
"Hit didn't have no blood oa it," Jackson spoke firmly,
confidently. "Like I tole you. I had it open; I wasn't goin'
after no Kanaks without nothin'. But I didn't use it on no-
body. It was plumb rusty. Every damn thing gits rusty down
here. Hit wasn't no blood, only rusty/'
Larry Lynch nodded, accepting it without question. Once
again they smoked in silence, and again the silence was
broken by the priest.
"You signed that confession and it's not true. Why'd you
sign it, Mervin?"
The young Negro's head jerked up; his mouth quivered.
"Them HP's make me sign it."
"Lieutenant Moscowitz said he saw you the same day you
signed it. He said he couldn't find any sign you were . . .
The sullen stubbornness returned and Jackson stared at
the floor, Lynch tried another angle.
"Once when I was about eight years old, we were playing
a game of hide-and-seek. I hid in Mom's closet, and for a
long time, I couldn't get out on account of there was no
handle inside the door. Boy, it was awful. Ever since then,
I can't stand it to be locked inespecially in the dark."
Jackson inhaled deeply. "Me too, Padre. They keep me in
that hole ... I duirno how long. Ail-as I know is, I'da sign
anything to get outa there." He ended on a long, shuddering
note. "I can't stari bein' lock up nohow. I git all choke up
so's I can't hardly breathe. Then I start screamin'. . . ."
"I know/' Lynch said. "Doctors have a name for it. But
that wasn't all they did, or you wouldn't sign a lie. What'd
"They say nobody gonna do nothin' 'bout no Kanak. Maybe
I get company punishment ten day. Nobody say nothin'
about no cote-martial/' His voice was bitter. "The lieutenant
ain't gonna believe me!"
"If he didn't, why do you s'pose he sent me here?"
"You a padre. You figger maybe you make me start to
pray, but I tell yer, I ain't know nothin' 'bout no religion
and I ain't gonna do no prayin'." The heavy black face was
"You're wrong, Mervin. I'm not asking you to pray, but
since you mention it, there's one thing I do want you to do."
He pulled a tiny replica of the famed Hodegetria of St. Luke
out of his pocket and handed it to the Negro.
Jackson took it uncertainly, looked at it and looked back
at the priest. "What I do with it?"
"Keep it. It's a picture of a good friend of mine a rigjit
powerful friend she is when you're in a jam. And we'ro in &
jam, feller. Moscowitz has gotta have an angle to get us out
of the mess you got us in with that confession. This is the
Lady can help us find the angle."
It was obviously an attempt to "give him religion," but
the approach was so new it puzzled Jackson. "What you
want I should do with it?" he asked again.
"Talk to her. Just the same as you would talk to your own
mother. You see, Mervin, she's God's mother and same as
you couldn't tell your mother no if site asked you to help
out a pal, God can't say no to His mother."
"I ain't gonna do it!" All the stubborn resentment, the
sullen fear was back. "I tell you I don't hold no truck with
no religion. An* I ain't gonna do no prayin* fer nobody.
Prayin' ain't gonna make no cote-martial believe me 'stead
of two MP's."
"She can make them believe, Mervin,'' Lynch said quietly.
"I'm not asking you to pray, All I want you to do is talk to
herlike she is your mother. You're the company champ
boxer; you know what it means to have a good second in a
"How you know about that, Padre?" Curiosity got the
better of his fear, but only for a moment. "What for you git
yourself all het up T)out me? I ain't nobody and I'm tellin'
yer now, I ain't buyin' no religion, cote-martial nor no cote-
"Did I try to sell you any, Mervin?" Lynch asked and con-
tinued without waiting for a reply. "I know that Lady. I know
what she can do if you ask her right. We need a good sec-
ond in our corner, and she's it. You just talk to her. Tell her
the truth. She'll believe you, just as I do. Tell her we gotta
make the court-martial believe you too. What can you
"You ack like she's real!" Mervin Jackson said, puzzled.
"She is real/' Lynch said with quiet assurance. "As real as
your own mother. I call her my Lady of Perpetual Help be-
cause she's always around when I need her. Will you take
a chance on her?"
Jackson was wary, but still curious. "You-all set a heap of
store by her," he said.
"iVe got good reason to/' Lynch answered. "She's never
let me down if I ask her right/'
"Okay," Jackson said. Til take a chance on her. Like you
say, what kin I lose?"
It is doubtful if there is a more solemn occasion on an
army base or reservation than a general court-martial. For
such trials, the United States Army based on New Caledonia
had selected the austere old French Tribunal probably one
of the first buildings erected when the French took over the
island in 1835.
The building was surrounded by a high wall; a great iron
gate cut through the wall and led to a flagstone walk lined
with tall shrubbery, taller in places than the gate itself. The
walk wound through a maze of tropic vegetation, opened
out at a large fountain directly in front of the building,
circled this fountain which was no longer in use, and ended
in front of an imposing staircase, at the top of which was a
large, colonnaded balcony that encircled the building.
On three sides of the balcony massive oak doors opened
into a wide, spacious room, and between the doors, great
French windows let the pungent-sweet collection of tropical
smells into the room, giving an illusion of coolness despite
The nine members of the general court-martial selected to
hear the case of Mervin Jackson sat at a long curving judge's
bench which dominated one end of the room. The prin-
cipals of the court-martial faced each other at one end of
the bench: on the right were the judge advocate and his as-
sistant; on the left, the defense counsel and the defendant,
Mervin Jackson, looking forlorn and somehow alone. Jack-
son sat motionless, hunched forward, his fingers gripping
each other tightly.
In the center of the judge's bench, clearly visible to every-
one present, was the witness box.
Mervin Jackson quivered when Lt Col. Julius Klein, presi-
dent of the court-martial, opened the court with a bang of
the gavel He seemed not to understand the proceedings
clearly but stood when directed to answer as to whether he
was satisfied with counsel. To this he replied "Yes," and then
slumped down again in his chair, apathetic and uncon-
cerned, while the trial judge advocate read the names of
those present and asked if any member thought there was
reason to challenge the presence of any person in that court.
But when Father Lynch slipped through one of the French
windows and seated himself unobtrusively on an empty
bench far back in the room, Mervin Jackson's back squared,
and his head lifted, and when the trial judge advocate barked
the formal question at him, he stood straight, his voice firm
and clear, to answer: "Not guilty 1"
Alvin Moscowitz, sitting beside his client, was also aware
of Father Lynch's presence in the courtroom. He saw the
priest slide down in his seat and imagined the legs stretched
out before him. Moscowitz, too, felt more relaxed and com-
The evidence against Mervin Jackson was formidable. It
began with Sgt. Willis, the MP who had made the arrest and
who told a straightforward, well-rehearsed, coherent tale.
He and his partner, Forsythe, had heard the disturbance and
hurried over to where the company truck was parked. There
they found Rodriquez wounded, lying in the dirt with blood
pouring from a gash in his face where he had been hit by a
rock. A soldier told Willis the rock had been thrown by a
"Somebody yelled that the Kanakas had run off, chased by
some American soldiers. We took out after them and we
found one American soldier who looked wild and untidy. He
had no cap and his hair was all mussed and he was panting,
as if he'd been running hard. He had an open knife in his
hand and Forsythe pulled his gun and ordered him to drop
it. His walk was unsteady and he smelled pretty strong of
alcohol, so we took him to the station/* He hesitated, breathed
deeply, went on in the same quiet monotone. "Later, when
we found out that the Kanaka had died . . /* but the trial
judge advocate stopped him.
"Please confine your evidence to what you know of your
own knowledge, Sergeant. Now, can you identify the soldier
"Yes, sir. It was Private Mervin Jackson the accused."
"Can you give us any additional information about the
knife you mentioned? What became of it?"
"I picked it up and turned it over to Sergeant McMullen
at the MP station."
"Describe it please, if you can."
"Yes, sir. It was a large pocketknife with a black handle
and a single blade about four inches long. There were blood-
stains all over the . . ."
Moscowitz jumped up, his voice crisp and hard. "Objec-
tion! The witness is stating a conclusion, not a fact. I ask
that the court direct that the answer be rephrased. There
has been no qualification of the witness as an authority on
"Everybody knows what blood looks like," the trial judge
advocate snapped. "You don't have to be an expert to tell
whether there's blood on a knife. I ask that the objection be
Moscowitz stood his ground, his voice quiet. "If the court
please, the witness testified as to bloodstains not blood. The ,
witness may be permitted to testify as to what he saw; he
may describe it as he believes it to be. But to state cate-
gorically that the stains he saw were bloodstains is a highly
technical conclusion to which only an authority can testify.
This witness has not been qualified as a chemist or other
expert on bloodstains."
Lt. Col. Klein listened attentively. When Moscowitz con-
cluded, he turned to the officer on his right. "Will the law
member rule on the objection, please!" he ordered.
Capt. Culbert's voice was cold, his words lacking any in-
flection except that they were decisive and without hesita-
tion. "Objection sustained. Sergeant Willis, you will confine
your answers to what you know to be a fact, and explain
other matters as to their appearance."
Far back in the courtroom, the lone spectator once more
leaned back, legs outstretched; the cross on the rosary he
held left a deep welt in the palm of his hand.
"Well, sir," Willis was saying slowly, "the blade was about
four inches long; all over it were dark red stains, like the
kind of stain blood would leave on a knife."
"Examine this object, Sergeant. If you can, please identify
The trial judge advocate handed him a knife, its blade
open. It was dark brown, showing none of the original shine
"That's the knife Jackson had in his hand when we picked
"I/ the defense," sarcasm bordered the trial judge advo-
cate's tone, "has no objection, I ask that this knife be marked
'Exhibit A' and entered in the record,"
"No objection," Moscowitz said mildly.
His cross-examination began in that same mild tone, but
the line it took surprised the witness. "Sergeant, was it light
or dark when you met Jackson?"
"It was dark in the park, sir, but at the place where we met
Jackson there was plenty of light from the stores and street."
"Enough light to see someone coining toward you?"
"Oh, yes, sir," Willis said.
"Was Jackson walking, or running?"
Willis hesitated, but only for a second. "He was walking,
"Walking toward you, or away from you?"
"He was walking toward me."
"That would be, then, in the general direction of the main
thoroughfare, the road leading into town?"
"Yes, sir. That's right." Willis was frankly puzzled, won-
dering where Moscowitz was leading him; but the defense
counsel left it, nodding as if satisfied.
"Now, Sergeant Willis," his voice kept that gentle, even
tone, "can you recall just where you and Corporal Forsythe
stood? Were you in the light from the street as you went
into the park toward the place where you met Jackson?"
"We mustVe been, sir. We were coming from the lighted
street . . ." He stopped, trying to recall his exact location,
"Perhaps I can make it a bit more specific," Moscowitz
said. "Would you say you were at all times visible to some-
one coming down the path from the woods toward the
"Oh, yes, sir. I'd be willing to say that."
"So, Private Jackson could not miss seeing you. And, hav-
ing seen you, continued to come on toward you?" He waited,
but as the witness again hesitated, he added, as if being
helpful, "What I'd like to learn, Sergeant, is simply this; Did
Private Jackson make any attempt to avoid you?"
"No, sir. Jackson walked right into us, but you see "
"Thank you, Sergeant." Moscowitz smiled. "There's just
one other thing. Did you feel the blade of the knife youVe
identified when you picked it up?"
"Feel? No, sir. I picked it up by the handle, naturally."
"Naturally," Moscowitz repeated. "And did you notice if
the handle was dry or wet or sticky?"
"The handle was dry, sir, but . . ."
"Were there any stains on the handle, Sergeant?"
"It was pretty old and dirty, but I don't remember no-
ticing any stains on the handle that is."
Moscowitz nodded with an air of reassurance to a man
who had done his duty. "Thank you, Sergeant. Oh, by the
way, were any laboratory tests made at the time of the arrest
to identify the stains you . . . thought were blood?"
Willis was startled. This was something which had obvi-
ously never occurred to him. "Why . . . no, sir!"
"Thank you, Sergeant. That is all."
The trial judge advocate looked as if he wanted to ask
Willis another question, but waved him down and called
Corp. Forsythe to the stand. Forsythe's testimony corrob-
orated everything Willis had said. When Moscowitz cross-
examinedusing the identical questions he had asked Willis
he received substantially the same answers. The corporal
was relaxed and at ease when Moscowitz threw his bomb-
"Corporal Forsythe, while Sergeant Willis arrested the de-
fendant, where were you?"
"I ... tried to find the . . . others."
"By the others do you mean American soldiers?"
"Did you find any American soldiers at the scene of the
"They'd run away, sir. There were no soldiers there."
"What about Kanakas?"
"Only Kanaka there was the dead one."
"Was there enough light in that section of the park for
yon to be sure there was no one but the dead Kanaka there?"
"It was pretty dark there, but . . ." Forsythe stopped,
looking uneasily at the trial judge advocate.
"But . . . ?" Moscowitz prompted.
"Well, there was a light some distance off; it wasn't
much. . . ."
"Was it enough to permit you to see figures running off
away from you, that is?"
"I ... I ... guess so," Forsythe said.
"Please tell the court what you saw, Corporal."
"Well, there were some men running . . ."
"Running, Corporal?" Moscowitz cut in. "Were they all
"I guess not. One of the men seemed drunker than . . ."
"Please confine your evidence to what you know of your
own knowledge, Corporal," Moscowitz snapped.
"It seemed that one man had to be helped out of the
woods," Forsythe snapped, his face red. "Two others helped
"You did not follow?"
"No, sir. It was my job to help my partner, Sergeant
Willis, so I went back and reported to him about the dead
"Corporal Forsythe, how long have you known the man
called Buzz Williams?"
"Objection!" the trial judge advocate shouted.
"If the court please," Moscowitz said quickly, "the de-
fense can prove that Williams is pertinent to this case."
Klein looked at Ca.pt Culbert, the law member, who said
flatly: "Objection overruled/'
"Please answer the question, Corporal/* Moscowitz in-
"I'm not sure, sir. About a year, I guess/'
"You saw him the day after the arrest of the accused?"
"I think that was the day/*
"How did he appear to you, Corporal? Let me clarify the
question further, please. Did Williams give the appearance
of a man who'd been in a fight?"
Forsythe hesitated briefly. "I ... would say so, sir." He
took a deep breath, then went on. "He was pretty beat up,
"Thank you, Corporal Where is Williams now?"
"He was shipped out three days later to India/'
Moscowitz spoke softly, confidentially. "He admitted to
you that he had been in the fight in the park?"
"Well ... I mean ... he ..."
"Just answer yes or no, Corporal."
"Yes, sir. But we had the guy who . . ."
"Corporal Williams admitted to being with the men who
were involved in the fight?"
"The guys were giving him a send-off."
"Did Williams tell you he had used his knife on a Kanak?"
"He had to ... I mean, the Kanak gave him a beating
and . . . well, he had a right to defend himself!"
"Thank you, Corporal Forsythe. That is all."
When Forsythe left the box, the trial judge advocate pro-
duced Jackson's confession and tried to have it admitted into
the record, but Moscowitz objected and the wrangle that
followed was hot and bitter. The confession was then ad-
mitted into the record.
The trial judge advocate called the provost marshal who
denied under oath that any duress had been used to obtain
the confession, but on cross-examination Moscowitz forced
him to testify that Mervin Jackson had been kept in solitary
confinement for three days just prior to signing the con-
Immediately after this witness was excused, the trial judge
advocate rested the prosecution's case. Moscowitz, however,
instead of opening the case for the accused, requested a
continuance until next morning.
"Objection!" shouted the trial judge advocate.
"On what grounds?" Moscowitz asked.
"On the grounds that the defense has had sufficient time
to prepare the case, that a continuance would merely be a
waste of the court's time, that . . "
Moscowitz stopped him by cutting in. "May it please the
court, Major Peter Burling, a defense witness with vital and
pertinent testimony, is not available, having been called to
the north on regimental business. He is the first witness
to be called for the defense. He will be here tomorrow
"The law member will rule on the objection," Klein in-
"Counsel for the defense has every right to request a con-
tinuance if such request is necessary to protect the inter-
ests of the accused. Objection overruled."
The man who sat in the rear of the courtroom stood up
when the gavel banged. His lips moved soundlessly as lie
prayed: "Mother of Perpetual Help, help us now and al-
The rough ride made speech impossible. Father Lynch
concentrated on hanging on while Moscowitz gave all his
attention to navigating the jeep over the ruts in the road
leading to the All-Services Chapel. When they reached the
comparatively smooth section of the company street, Larry
Lynch looked at the lieutenant and asked:
"Scared stiff, Father," Moscowitz grinned.
"Cheer up, feller. You got 'em worried."
"Trouble is I am too!"
"You're not giving the fellows sitting on the other side
of that bench much credit, son," Lynch said quietly. "Of
course the confession is bad, but you've got a couple good
aces up your sleeve. And just because it was admitted doesn't
mean the members believed it."
"Don't be an everlasting optimist, Padre," Moscowitz
snapped. "Three MP's and one provost marshal! Those men
know better than to perjure themselves. When they swear
that no coercion was used to get that confession . . /*
Lynch laughed. "You're suggesting the officers sitting on
that court-martial don't know MP's and how an MP defines
such words as coercion and duress?"
"No, Father. But memories can be short. When those
guys swore under oath that no coercion or duress was
used . . ."
"They weren't lying, Tex," Lynch stopped him. "But that's
not to say they were telling the truth! It's all a matter of
definition. Their definition of duress doesn't happen to in-
elude Jackson's claustrophobia and what three days and
three nights locked in solitary can do to a man like Mervin."
"You're on our side," Moscowitz said. "You'd find an
"Jackson's got some mighty powerful people on his side,"
Lynch said. "He's got you defending him for one, and you're
doing a mighty fine job of it. He's got me standing by, and
you should know by now that Brooklyn never quits, 'spe-
cially in the last inning. Jackson has Our Lady of Perpetual
Help in his corner, and a fighter cant lose with her as his
second. It's a tough combination to lick, particularly when
a guy's innocent."
"Is he, Father?" Moscowitz asked. "Is he innocent?"
"For a doubting Thomas, you're a fine actor! Back there
when you objected to Willis testifying about blood on the
knife you were magnificent in your righteous indignation.
Even Klein sat up and took notice and I'd have sworn you
were convinced of Jackson's innocence."
Moscowitz pulled the jeep to a stop, but the priest did
not get out immediately. Instead he put his hand over the
one which gripped the wheel and said gently: "The fight
isn't over until the last bell rings, Tex. One of these days
I'm going to introduce you to Our Lady. She's a right good
arnicas curiae when you're in a jam, but in the meantime,
here's something for you to mull over. You've created doubt
in the minds of the judges about both the knife and the
confession; when Dr. Burling testifies there's no blood, the
prosecution's case will fold. Get along with you now and
get some sleep. Quit worrying, feller. Remember, you're not
in this fight alone!"
Moscowitz watched the priest walking toward his own
shack. He noticed that the step was jaunty, with a sugges-
tion of a swagger in it. He smiled, pressed the accelerator
and whispered softly, "Thanks, Brooklyn/' as the jeep moved
As the false dawn of the tropics crept over the horizon
next morning, Glenn Kittler was mdely awakened by an
eruption of sound in the immediate vicinity. Lying still, he
identified it as persistent hammering from the direction of
the All-Services Chapel. With astonishing alacrity, Kittler
was up and beginning to dress, cursing the vandal who had
disturbed his rest.
He went to rout out the chaplain, but Lynches shack was
empty, so he hurried directly to the chapel. Inside the door,
he stood surveying an unbelievable scene.
The partition which separated the chapel proper from
what was formerly used as a sacristy had been ripped down
and was stacked in one corner. The flooring, always uneven
at that part of the place, now showed a gaping wound, and
there, bending over to rip up another of the floor boards,
was Father Lawrence Lynch. The priest's face was dirty,
and rivers of sweat streaked down into his shirt; his sleeves
were rolled above his elbows, and the shirt itself was half
in and half out of his trouser belt.
Kittler stared speechless for some moments. When he
finally found his voice, he said exactly what he thought.
"What in the name of hell you trying to do?"
Lynch looked up, ignored the comment and grunted. "Hi,
Champ, give me a hand here, will you?"
Kittler, suddenly embarrassed by his choice of words,
moved forward and grasped the floor board indicated by
"I hope you know what you're doing, Father," he said, his
tone implying the apology he would not voice.
Lynch, breathing harder than usual from his exertions,
grinned. "Sure. I'm making the chapel larger." He looked
around, waving his hand. "With that partition down, and
an extension there for a sacristy . . /*
"Mind telling me where you figger to get replacement
material? We're in a war. Father! Didn't you hear? And
this is the Army. You don't just pick up a phone and order
stuff. Heck, you should know the score!"
"I s'pose you mean lumber, nails, paint . . . that sort of
thing?" Lynch asked, head cocked.
"Uh-huh," Kittler nodded. "That sort of thing." He looked
meaningly at the devastation around them. "You haven't
been here long," he said, a measure of pity for Lynch's igno-
rance in his tone, "not near long enough to know just how
tough things can get in this man's army. Out here, you gotta
make the best of . . ."
A voice close behind him made him jump. He turned, but
not so fast that he missed Lynch's chuckle and soft re-
joinder: "The Lord will provide!"
"Where d'yer want this stuff, Padre?" The voice belonged
to a husky seabee in dungarees. "Lieutenant says for me
and Joe to stick around and give yer a hand. Says you got
a job t'do."
"That's great, Bill. Great. Nobody can do a job like the
seabees." The sailor dropped a load of lumber from his
shoulder to the floor.
From beyond the chapel door, a second Seabee yelled at
Kittler. "Hey, Sarge, lend a muscle, will yer!" but Kittler pre-
tended not to hear. He was watching Lynch, eyes narrowed.
There was something about this deal he didn't like, but he
wasn't sure what it was yet.
The priest was explaining to Bill exactly what he wanted
done, and suddenly Kittler knew the reason for his suspicion.
Lynch wouldn't be around for any of the work! Oh, no.
"Kittler here will show you if you need help. He'll help,
and if it's not too much trouble . . ."
"Forget it, Padre. Us and the Sarge kin fix her up right
nice for you in no time flat."
"That's what I call real cooperation between the armed
forces," Lynch said. "Glenn, show the boys how a sacristy
should look, and see they get plenty of chow. IVe got a chore
to do in town, but I should be back in plenty of time before
"Don't you fret none about us, Padre," Joe said, coming
in with a load of lumber.
"Bless you both. Someday maybe we'll make this a real
chapel, with a real altar and hand-painted stations of the
cross and . . ."
Kittler had no conscious intention of speaking. "And I
suppose you'll do the painting, Father?" It was pure sar-
casm, but Lynch took it literally.
"I've been quite an artist in my time," Lynch nodded,
"When I was in South America "
Bill's eyes opened wide as he interrupted. "Where at,
Padre? Didja ever hit Rio?"
"I sure did. What were you doing there?" Lynch asked.
"Had me a job, one of them contract things you sign up
fer where they ship you places for two years. Say, I never
did see the like of them snakes they grow down there!"
Lynch laughed. "I nearly got bitten by a jarraraca once.
Serve me right if I had. I was stealing! Know those great,
green, leafy plants look like pandanus?" Bill nodded, and
against his will, Kittler found himself listening with interest;
even Joe took time off to listen after dropping the lumber
he carried on his shoulder. "Just as I started to swipe one,
I noticed it had a fold down in the base of itsort of like
a pocket. There was water in it and under the water a neat
brown thing was all curled up and wound around himself-
If rd touched that plant , . ."
Bill whistled and Joe shivered, but Kittler s eyes narrowed
again; he wondered if this was an act of some sort, if Lynch
had an ulterior motive in telling the story and, if he had,
what that motive was. Certainly the priest had traveled far
from his own artistic talents, and Kittler was convinced this
was not like Larry Lynch.
"How come you figger that jarraraca didn't swipe out at
you anyhow?" Bill asked. "Them things kin smell people,
"That's what they say down there, Bill/' Lynch nodded.
"But I wanted the plant for the chapel of Our Lady of Per-
petual Help, and I guess she put him to sleep. Or maybe he
was tight with all the water he'd been drinking. Anyhow,
he was dopey enough for us to spade him in half."
"What a break!" Bill breathed. "How long you was in
"Three years-1934 to '37."
"Gripes. Same time I was. Was you in Rio all a time?"
"Nope. I went to Paraguay after I left Brazil."
"Jeez, you musta seen plentya the country."
"I sure did. And that's when I did my best painting, by
the way. It was beautiful country, and while I was there,
I heard of a kid back home who'd developed tuberculosis.
Poor Kathy was dying, so I used to paint pictures of the
countryside and write the screwiest letters you ever saw to
go with them, but her parents told me she got a big kick
out of them, and that was what mattered. After she died,
I kept on painting. Say, if you guys pop in and see my Mom
when you get back to the States, she'll show you some of
the stuff. Some of it was good too, even if I do say it."
"You would!" Kittler muttered, under his breath.
"Boy, it's one swell place, S.A.," Bill said, nostalgia in his
tone. "Ever go up to the Corcovado?"
"Yep," Lynch said. "One of these days I'll tell you some
real exciting stories about it, but right now, I gotta run. You
stick around till I get back, and we'll finish this job to-
Joe laughed. "You don't know the Navy, Padre. And you
don't know Bill and me. Why, with the help of the Sarge
here/' his eyes took in Battler's spare frame and he shook
his head doubtfully, but continued with a measure of as-
surance, 'we'll have her done up brown long 'fore mess call.
Don't you fret none and you ain't got no call to hurry back/'
Glenn Kittler wanted to protest; he also wanted to find
out where his superior was going. After all, that was part
of his job, but before he could frame the question, Lynch,
with a quick smile and a "Thanks, fellers; all the same, you
wait for me/' was gone. Kittler cursed under his breath when
the Seabee named Joe, on his way to the truck, shouted back
over his shoulder, "Okay, Sarge. Let's go/'
Moscowitz had Maj. Peter Burling on the stand when
Father Lynch slid quietly onto the bench in the rear of the
courtroom. Burling had already established his qualifica-
tions as a doctor and his ability to testify on matters in the
field of pathology, chemistry and medicine.
"I showed you this knife/' Moscowitz was saying, "marked
^Exhibit A' by the prosecution. You were requested to make
certain tests and analyses on it. Have you done so?"
"I have. Personally, I might add."
"Thank you. Now, Major Burling, will you give this court
a summary of your findings?"
"Scrapings taken from this knife tagged 'Exhibit A' on
analysis showed thirty-nine substances. A detailed list of
them has been prepared and, if you wish, I will be glad to
read . . ."
"Thank you, sir/' Moscowitz said softly. "That will not be
necessary, at least for now. Can you tell this court whether
or not blood is included in your list of thirty-nine sub-
"Blood was not among the substances found/* Burling
The man far back in the courtroom relaxed. His fingers
gripped each other until the knuckles showed white; they
were unclenched as he made the sign of the cross.
Moscowitz bowed slightly. "Thank you, Major. Now, will
you tell the court just what the effects would be on a vic-
tim of claustrophobia who has been locked in for three days
and three nights."
"Objection!" shouted the trial judge advocate, "on the
grounds that it is incompetent, immaterial and irrelevant."
"Major Burling has been qualified as a competent witness
and is an expert in a matter which is not only relevant to
this trial but vitally important to the case for the accused.**
"Overruled," Klein said.
"Please proceed, Major."
"A claustrophobe could become almost violent after such
a long period of incarceration. His judgment becomes
warped; his mentality is almost submerged in an illogical,
but uncontrollable panic."
"Would such a victim sign a document which he knows
to be untrue?"
"Some of them would sign their own death warrant in
order to get out."
"Thank you, Major." There was a suggestion of unsteadi-
ness in the young counsel's voice. "Your witness/' he said.
As he returned to his seat, he mopped his forehead and
the palms of his hands.
The trial judge advocate stood directly before Maj. Peter
"Major, is there any possibility of error in this matter of
blood on the knife?"
"No possibility whatever, sir," Burling said. "I'd stake my
professional reputation on the fact that there was no speck
of blood on the knife given to me for examination. The tests
made were exhaustive; nothing was taken for granted as
will be evidenced by this list of thirty-nine . . ."
"Thank you," the trial judge advocate snapped, before
reiteration could further damage his case. "Now, sir, having
given us a lecture on claustrophobia, do you expect this
court to believe the accused would confess to a murder
about which he knew nothing just because he had been
"A claustrophobe, locked in such a cell as the solitary one
at Paita, a small, windowless cell, could become an unrea-
soning maniac. Given an instrument, he might commit sui-
"And did you," the trial judge advocate's tone became
heavily sarcastic, "in your capacity as doctor, examine the
accused to ascertain if he isor was a claustrophobe?"
Maj. Burling spoke quietly but emphatically. "No, I did
not. Claustrophobia is not an obvious disease nor one easily
diagnosed. But if you've ever been stuck in an elevator with
a victim of it ... believe me, sir, you'd recognize the
symptoms without any professional knowledge or ability."
"Thank you, sir/' The trial judge advocate now seemed
anxious to discontinue the subject. "No further questions."
Moscowitz proceeded with the case for the defense, call-
ing three soldiers who had been with Jackson on the night
the Kanaka was killed. Each one told substantially the same
story. The Kanakas started the row; one of them had stoned
Rodriquez, Jackson's buddy; the men from the platoon, in-
cluding Jackson and Williams, started pursuit into the park
after Rodriquez fell, but the Kanakas knew the park too
Jackson was among the first to give up; he was worried
about his friend, but before he got to the wounded man,
he was arrested. He had no reason to attempt to escape; he
was not with them when three Kanakas jumped Williams;
Williams had begun to keel over, one said, before he pulled
his knife to defend himself. Jackson was not with them when
the Kanaka was stabbed.
On cross-examination, the trial judge advocate tried to
shake the soldiers, but the best he could do was , to estab-
lish that none of them would sign a confession for such a
reason as that given by the defense.
At last, Moscowitz had Mervin Jackson in the witness box.
Gently and quietly, he led the defendant through the story
of that night in the woods. He helped Jackson tell the story
in his own words but in a more cohesive way than he had
told it to the priest at Paita, using Lynch's report to prod
when Jackson faltered, making the story pointed where it
"Now, Mervin, when did you sign the confession which
stated that you had stabbed the Kanaka six times?"
Jackson's voice was lower. "Same day they let me outa
that . . . place."
"Why did you sign it if it was not true?" Moscowitz
"Lieutenant, I'da sign anything to get outta there. 'Sides,
them MP's told me ain't nothin' gonna heppen t'me. I ain't
done nothin' and they say did I sign the paper, they ain't
gonna put me back in that hole."
"But you knew the paper did not tell the truth. Did you
say so to the MP's?"
"Yessir, but they say Vhasa difference? Hit's on'y a Kanak.
Nobody gonna do nothin' 'bout no Kanak. Ma'be I get me
company punishment ten day . . . sometibin' easylike. No-
body ain't say nothin' 'bout no cote-martial!"
"Mervin," Moscowitz was very gentle, "remember you are
on your oath before God to tell the whole truth. I am going
to ask you one more question. I want you to think about it
before you answer it. As God is your judge, did you sign
that confession in good faith because it was the truth?"
The Negro looked straight into his counsel's eyes, head
up, shoulders back, voice firm. "I swear t'God, sir, I ain't
stab nobody. I sign the paper like I tole you, but hit weren't
"Your witness," Moscowitz said.
The trial judge advocate made Jackson go over the story
again and again, point by point, using every legal trick to
shake his story. At times Jackson seemed to be confused,
but he did not alter his story by any important detail. When
he finally stepped down from the witness box, there was a
grayness about his face, but as his eyes searched for and
found Lynch in the dimness, his head lifted again and he
walked to his seat.
The defense rested, and immediately began the summa-
tion by the trial judge advocate and the rebuttal by the de-
fense. At last it was over. The president declared the court
closed to deliberate on the evidence, and the members filed
Alvin Moscowitz sat still, hands limp on the table before
him, eyes staring at nothing.
Mervin Jackson's eyes searched the semigloom of the
courtroom again. Now his shoulders were hunched, the fin-
gers of one hand plucking restlessly at the edge of his jacket,
the other hand a tight fist.
The captain who had been trial judge advocate began
collecting his papers, but with a weary, disinterested air-
as if, now it was over, he was in a hurry to get back to
One man in the courtroom seemed completely relaxed.
Father Lawrence Lynch sat confidently on the hard bench.
Only the moving lips were evidence of his inner turmoil as
he prayed, over and over: "Mother of Perpetual Help, help
us now. Mother of Perpetual Help, help us now! 9
It was twenty-nine minutes before the members filed back
into the courtroom and took their seats. Klein banged his
gavel and ordered Jackson to stand; Jackson's shoulders
straightened as he braced himself for the blow he expected.
Klein's voice was crisp: "This court finds the accused not
guilty. Court adjourned!"
Lynch waited until the court-martial officials had filed
out, before leaving. As he passed Moscowitz, he whispered,
"Wait for me, please/* He went directly to Mervin Jackson,
now slumped in the chair where before he had been straight.
Jackson's right hand was clenched into a fist; when he
saw the priest, he opened it, stared at the crumpled paper
he held, then looked up at Father Lynch. He tried to speak,
but 110 words came.
Lynch said it for him, his voice low. "She sure came
through, didn't she?"
Jackson nodded dumbly, his eyes suddenly wet. Lynch
said nothing, one hand gripping the man's shoulder. At last,
Jackson spoke. "You . . . you gotta gimme another one.
Guess as how I ... clean fergot I had ... I reckon as
how I mess hit up some."
The priest pulled out of his pocket another tiny copy of
the picture which had been reputedly painted by St. Luke
and destroyed by the Turks in the year 1453. "She won't
mind that, Mervin/' he said, handing it to him. " 'Specially
if you figure she had a hand in it."
Mervin Jackson shook his head slowly. "I gotta figger it,"
he said. "Ain't nobody coulda make them officers believe me
'stead of them MP's lessen 'twas her/' He took a deep breath.
"Padre, I talk ter her. Jest like you tole me; I talk to her . . .
sorta like I'd a talk to Ma was she here. Funny, ain't it? I
ain't got me no religion, but I kin talk to her. Seems like
Padre, you think I gone nuts, talkin' so?"
"No, son. But I think you should tell her thanks, don't
you?" The soldier nodded, and Lynch went on. "And you
won't forget to thank the lieutenant, will you? He did help
some, you know."
"You betcha. Yep. Ill do that, Padre/' His shoulders were
straight again as he stood before Lynch. "I ... I guess as
how I'll go talk f him right now."
"Atta boy. And say, how's about popping into my quarters
one of these days?" Mervin Jackson looked startled, and
Lynch chuckled. "Don't worry. I won't try selling you re-
ligion. But there's a little chore I'd like you to do for me,
if you ever get to Brooklyn. You stop by and I'll tell you
all about it."
"Yes, sir. Ill be right glad." He saluted smartly, and Lynch
waited, giving him time to talk to Moscowitz. When he saw
Jackson start for the balcony, he went up to the lieutenant.
"Congratulations, Tex," Lynch said. "That was a master-
Moscowitz shook his head. "It makes me nauseated think-
ing what could have happened if you hadn't taken a hand,
and if you hadn't given me the courage to have that knife
tested." He finished stuffing papers into a brief case, locked
it, looked at the priest. "Father, you still Island Command,
or have you been assigned to an outfit?"
"Island Command," Lynch grinned. "The army hasn't dis-
covered yet that Fm here. Hurry up and wait."
"The Army!" Moscowitz said, all the bitterness of his stay
on New Caledonia in his tone. "We've been asking for a
chaplain you know what they call the 42nd QM? The father-
less tank battalion. That's us. We've never had a chaplain.
We've never even had a regular recreation officer except
me. And believe me, this island's no place for guys who ex-
pected to be shipped up and . . . nuts, Padre, we should
have a chaplain!"
"Better not put in for me, Tex. You'll be sorry," Lynch
"Maybe," Moscowitz said. "Ever since you landed, you
seemed to belong to the 42nd QM somehow. Maybe if we're
the first to put in for you, if we said you'd been mixed up
with us right from the start . . .**
"I wouldn't do that, Tex," Lynch said quickly. Then, as if
aware that he had very nearly betrayed his own fear of the
army's familiar habit of consigning one to the oblivion of a
file drawer, he changed to his usual grin. "Of course you
should have a chaplain, and it seems to me that until I am
reassigned, if I ever am, there's no reason we can't have a
. . . well, a gentleman's agreement. I could adopt the 42nd."
"You mean that, Father?"
"I warn you, you may be sorry, but if that's what you
want . . ."
"That's what I want, Padre. If you knew the things this
island can do to a man! The frustration, the monotony, even
the very beauty of it. Padre, I'll bet that Kanak would be
alive today if we'd had a chaplain to help keep the guys in
"All right, Tex. You've got a deal," Lynch said.
They were in the jeep, jouncing over the rough road
when Father Lynch said: "By the way, what plans have you
made to celebrate Passover?"
"Huh?" Moscowitz choked, and Lynch laughed outright.
"Too fast for you? Or is it that you just don't go in for
religion?" Color made the lieutenant's face look darker.
"You're not going to tell me you don't know about Pass-
"Of course not, Padre. But, as a matter of fact, I don't
follow the rules much, especially since I've been in the
"I hear tell there are plans afoot for a Passover feast in
the hospital for most Jewish men in the Island Command/*
Lynch said, his head cocked. "What about the 42nd QM?"
"You're not suggesting that we send all the Jewish men
in the 42nd downtown?" Moscowitz asked, shocked.
Lynch grinned, nodded. "Why not?"
"Father, there are more than a hundred of them. Trans-
portation alone would be a major matter, and . . . oh, it's
"Okay. So we bring the Seder to them."
This time Moscowitz was startled. Suddenly the jeep
seemed to leap under his pressure, but he said nothing for
some seconds. At last, when he couldn't hold back any
longer, he demanded: "How come this Jewish routine,
Father? You're a Catholic priest! I don't get it. I . . ."
Lynch's laughter stopped him.
"Bet you don't know what *nem nit vinzeger vee zwelf
dullar' means. Or, Jer kauf nit vinzeger vee zwelf dullar. 9 "
Lynch grinned. "Well, I'll tell you." He didn't give Mosco-
witz time to adjust to the sudden change. "One of 'em means
don't sell for twelve dollars and the other means don't take
less than twelve dollars. And twelve dollars was what my
Pop and I paid for my confirmation suit down in Delancey
Street when I was twelve."
"What's that got to do with . . ."
"My best pal was a kid named Ikey Cohen. His parents
were dead and lie lived with his grandfather, so he sort of
got adopted into our family. Mom always had plenty of
room in her great heart for extras, but Mom was adamant
about religion. Of course, Ikey was smart; he knew enough
to find out a lot about his own rituals; he wasn't taking any
chances getting in bad with Mom. He taught me to speak
some Hebrew; he got me my first job in his uncle's shoe-
shop; he was quite a guy only thing wrong with him, he
got born in Manhattan instead of Brooklyn."
Moscowitz brought the jeep to a stop before the All-Serv-
ices Chapel. "I gotta hurry, Tex/' Lynch said. "A couple sea-
bees are probably ready to slay me about now, to say noth-
ing of one furious chaplain's assistant with a justifiable
grievance, and before you're finished with me, you'll prob-
ably hate me too, but don't say I didn't warn you that is,
if you're still willing to go on with that deal we made."
"I'm satisfied with it, Brooklyn/' Moscowitz said.
Work was piled high on Glenn Eattler's desk, but he found
it impossible to concentrate on anything for very long. In
the middle of a letter, questions plagued him: What kind of
man was this Lynch? How could he ever survive as assistant
to a man who somehow managed to make him feel and act
and look like a fool? Where was Lynch now?
Klein had telephoned not once, but three times. He said
it was urgent, and he intimated that it was peculiar that
Kittler didn't know where Lynch had gone.
Kittler had called every place he could think of without
success. No one had seen his superior; no one had any idea
where he might be, and several of them made snide cracks
which he bitterly resented. Of course he should know the
whereabouts of his boss! How could he explain to anyone
Lynch's complete disappearance?
And there was this matter of the rebuilding of the chapel.
Why should he be stuck with it? He had enough work to do
without becoming a carpenter! He resented the fact that
the seabees seemed to get a kick out of finishing the job
before Lynch returned; but the army technical manual for
chaplains had nothing in it about an assistant becoming a
builder. Nor did it say anything about an assistant becom-
ing a wet nurse to his chaplain.
There had been other calls in addition to Klein's, and
each one increased his irritation at Lynch. He toyed with
the idea of asking for a transfer but discarded it temporarily.
After all, Lynch might not last long and another Father
Svedas might replace him. Life on Noumea under the gen-
tle, soft-spoken, easygoing priest had had many compensa-
tions, and the job of assistant chaplain carried some prestige
even more so when the chaplain was attached to the Island
Command at large.
If Klein called once more . . . and anyway, what in hell
did he want with Lynch? If he had any illusions of having
him transferred to the 42nd, he'd . . .
The door opened and closed with a soft bang. "Hi-ya,
Champ/ 7 Lynches voice was light and breezy. "How're my
two seabees doing?" He moved directly to his own desk and
began looking over the messages.
Kittler grunted. "They're probably sleeping under the
naoli tree behind the cookshack."
"Oh? Then they finished work on the chapel?"
"We finished before mess call," Kittler said.
"Good job." Lynch ignored the emphasis. "Go flag 'em for
me while I take a look."
Kittler started to speak, began rolling down his sleeves
slowly, his mouth a tight line. When he saw Lynch pick up
one of the notes about Klein's calls and put it down with-
out comment, he had to say it: "Klein told me it was urgent.
I tried to find you everywhere."
"Next time don't try, Champ. I usually turn upeventu-
ally. If Klein calls again, say 111 see him later on, and if any-
body else calls, say you'll get me as soon as you can. Right
now I've got things to do. Tell those guys to get their truck
rolling, will you. I'll meet 'em in front of the chapel."
Kittler wanted to protest, to voice some of his mounting
anger, to pin Lynch down. But there was an odd undertone
of command in the way Lynch had spoken-a note of dis-
missal. He shrugged, storing up his bitterness for the mo-
ment, determined that immediately after the seabees left,
he'd have it out with the priest, once and for all.
He went to the cookshack and searched the area shaded
by the spreading naoli, but the sailors were not there. Mc-
Carthy told him grumpily that they had gone, after de-
manding more coffee and whatinhell did the Navy mean
getting guys into bad habits like that? But Kittler was hur-
rying toward the front of the chapel, where he knew the
truck was parked.
He heard the motor turn over and ran faster. But when
he turned into the company street, the truck was beginning
to roll. He shouted, started to run again and stopped with
a short curse.
Seated next to the two sailors in the cab of the truck was
Father Lawrence E. Lynch.
The heavy track rocked over the rough, hilly road lead-
ing in the direction of the naval personnel depot. Bill, in-
tent on his driving, muttered his opinion of the Army, a
man's spine becoming an accordion, and the Navy's efficiency
in road building all interspersed with choice adjectives. Joe
tried nudging him to shut up, but, not succeeding, turned
to his right and tried to drown out his partner's comments.
"Padre, how you fix it so's you wangled a whole load of
lumber outa old Nicholas? S'far as I know, ain't nobody in
this man's Navy kin do that, less'n maybe Lieutenant Coster
say so, and even the exec's gotta say pretty* please to old
Lynch chuckled. "Don't ask professional secrets, Joe. Say,
isn't that shack we just passed a canteen?"
"Uh-huh," Joe grunted, noncommittal.
"What about a beer?" Lynch asked.
Bill slammed the brakes so fast the truck lurched in a
rat, throwing Lynch and Joe forward and stalling the motor.
"Sorry, Padre/' he apologized.
"Nix, Bill. Nix/' Joe kicked his shin. He turned to the
priest again, and with reproach in his look and tone, said:
"You want us should get ten days in the brig?"
Bill started up the motor, muttering: "Ain't nothin* in the
regs says the Army can't . . ."
"Shut up," Joe said. "That shack's outa bounds for the
Navy, Padre. O'course, if you got scrambled eggs in your
cap . . r
"Anything in navy regs says an army officer in a navy
truck can't go in for some beer?" Lynch asked.
"That's right, Joe!" Bill said eagerly. "Ain't nothing says
a navy truck transportin' a army officer can't stop outside
the canteen. And ain't nothin' says the Army can't do like
it wants." Another sharp kick elicited a yelp. "Hey, what
the . . ."
"That ain't no place for no padre, Bill, and you know it,"
Joe snapped. "He's new around here. He don't know . . ."
"Bet you a nickel," Lynch interrupted. "I can get in there
and out again before it can contaminate me!" He jumped
down from the truck and headed back. "Don't back up, Bill,
but keep her humming."
Bill was still rubbing his shin, but before he could finish
giving his full opinion of Joe and his ancestry all of which
Joe ignored in his intent scrutiny of the road ahead and
behind Lynch was back with a paper bag. He handed it
up to Joe, climbed in and took it back.
"Just in case," he said. "They tell me there's a jeep with
a couple SP's up ahead. Take it easy, Bill. These cans are
open and beer don't look good on my suit if it spills. Keep
her moving till you find a spot we can park off the road."
"Better not, Padre/' Joe said. "You just hand her out and
well take her as she goes." Lynch accepted the alternative
plan and handed each of them a can of beer, keeping the
third for himself.
Unlike the army base, the naval personnel depot was not
a sprawling camp but a tight collection of buildings which
looked down from a high hill. Far off in the distance, Noumea
was a tiny speck., and further away could be seen Admiral
Halsey's headquarters and the beehive which was SOPAC,
framed in the shimmering blue of the bay behind it.
A single-lane road led to the reservation and the neat
rows of tents and shacks a road guarded at the gate by two
businesslike members of the Shore Patrol.
Bill leaned over Joe. "Padre, you gotta put on your cap
and button up your collar. Them guys is fussy who gets
"Right/' Lynch obeyed immediately, his hat sitting at a
jaunty angle atop his close-cropped dark hak.
Joe glanced at him and grinned. "On you it don't look
"Where you want we should leave you, sir?" Bill said, un-
consciously acknowledging the officer's insignia.
""Somewhere near the executive's quarters/' Lynch said.
Tve got to see Nicholas first to thank him for lending me
the lumber and then I've got to thank the lieutenant for
lending me you guys."
"I like that lend' stuff, hey, Joe?" Bill laughed, pulling
up before the guard at the gate. The SP saluted with his
rifle and Lynch acknowledged the salute.
"Captain Lawrence E. Lynch, Chaplain/' he said, and the
truck was waved on.
The late afternoon sun threw long shadows on the road-
way where scantily leaved trees here and there defied the
progress of the United States Navy. Bill swung the truck in
an arc, and pointed.
"You'll find old Nick down yonder, Padre," he pointed.
"Go straight through the B.O.Q."
"Thanks," Lynch said, making no move to descend. "Say,
I didn't notice any chapel around here. Where do you guys
go for service?"
"When there's a battlewagon in, we have service on
board," Joe explained.
"You always go? Both, of you?" Lynch was busy tucking
his cap into his belt and turning his collar inside. He seemed
not particularly interested in their replies and apparently
didn't notice Joe squirming. "Of course, I know how tough
it can be ... what about you, Bill?"
Bill looked startled. "Who, me, Padre?"
"You, Bill." Lynch grinned.
"Well, now, you see, it's like this. There's . . ."
"Yep, I know all about it," Lynch said. "There were three
men in a boat and the oars leaked. Say, don't you think you
ought to come see if the chapel's okay now? What about
six o'clock Sunday night? I'll be saying Mass there and it'll
give us a good chance to see if we've got it big enough."
"Bill's not a Catholic, Father " Joe flushed at LyncFs
"I promise it won't show, Bill/' Lynch said. "What about
It was Bill's turn to squirm. "I just ain't what you'd call
one o' them religious guys, Padre."
"But you believe in God?" It was more a statement of
fact, a matter not subject to question.
"Sure I do/' Bill said.
Lynch nodded. "Shows you got sense. Anybody in this
man's Aimy or Navy who doesn't is plain crazy. Right?" Bill
Suddenly, Lynch grinned. It seemed to bring them into a
strange, close intimacy with him when he asked: "You ever
talk to God?"
"Huh?" Bill gasped, eyes wide. Joe looked as if he weren't
sure whether to be shocked or startled.
"You heard me. You should try it sometime. Come to
chapel next Sunday and talk to God like He's somebody
you know. After you talk to Him in chapel, you'd be sur-
prised how easy it is to do it outside. And take my word for
it, He can be mighty useful to talk to, specially when you're
in a pinch. So I'll expect to see you both Sunday night." He
was on the ground, ready to move off. "And thanks a lot for
all the help today."
Joe watched him stride off. "He's quite a guy, ain't he,
Bill meshed gears and stepped on the gas hard. "Yeah."
After a few moments of silence, Joe asked, "You goin*
"Dammit, I gotta, ain't I?" Bill snapped. "What the hell
else can I do? You heard him."
On a naval shore base, where wives are not permitted,
the street lined with shacks, dignified by small plates show-
ing the name and rank of each occupant, is referred to as
B.O.Q. Apart from those small plates, there was nothing to
indicate that the occupants of the shacks were more exalted
than the rest of the men, yet such a street is considered in-
violateparticularly to the lesser gentry of the armed forces.
All the more startling then were the incongruous sounds
that arrested Larry Lynch's attention as he headed in the
direction indicated by Bill.
The name plate over the door was that of a rear admiral,
but the comments coming through the open window were
hardly of a military nature. Lynch turned his collar in, re-
moved his cap and cautiously opened the door. He stood
still, waiting until the poker hand being played was com-
Five marines squatted in a semicircle on the floor, a stack
of money before each of them. In the center, the current
"pot" showed that the hands had created some excitement,
and though two men had already dropped their cards face
down on the floor, the other three scrutinized their cards
"See you!" one man snapped, pushing a pile of money
almost all he had into the middle.
"Too rich for me," a second said, laying down his cards.
The third manthe one with the largest stack of money
showed the five cards he had held close to his chest three
queens, a ten and a six. "Three very pretty girls," he grinned,
pulling the stack of money toward his pile.
"Damn!" the first man showed three jacks, a ten and an
eight. "How in heU . . ."
Lynch cleared his throat, moved forward. 'The Army
wants in. What's chances?"
The marines looked up startled, but relaxed when they
saw the G.L Several of them grinned broadly, and the first
man said, "Army dough is as good as Navy dough any day.
Shove over, Mack."
Lynch squatted between the two of them, while another
asked him: "Know what they say in the Navy, soldier?"
Tm listening," Lynch said.
"They say as how the guys in Washington ain't got much
sense. If they'd pay off the Army and let the Navy shoot
craps or play poker with 'em, Uncle Sam wouldn't have to
pay the Navy . . . and everybody knows when the Navy's
in, the Marines are in front." He laughed. "Just warning
you, pal. Like Flick says, Army dough is good as any other
Lynch nodded. "Thanks for the warning. What stakes?"
"Dollar limit," another marine told him riffling the cards.
Lynch pulled some coins out of his pocket and added
four one-dollar bills to them. "Like to start small," he
grinned. "Makes the pile look better when it's another man's
money. Say, none of you from Brooklyn by any chance?"
"Naw," the dealer grunted.
"That's real tough." Lynch studied his cards.
"What's tough about it?" Flick leaned forward.
Lynch shrugged. "Fair is fair/' he said. "You warned me;
I figure I ought to warn you. I'm from Brooklyn, and when
we play poker or anything else! in Brooklyn, we play for
"Yah!" another marine made a rude sound. "Play cards/'
It is axiomatic to poker players that an extra player join-
ing a game usually changes the run of the cards, and fre-
quently changes the run of luck. It was not surprising, there-
fore, that the piles of money shifted somewhat, but it was
astonishing how the shift seemed to settle into an ever-
increasing stream in one direction before the newcomer.
"Damn it," a marine called George barked, "he talks to
"Hun-nuh," Lynch shook his head. "I told you. I'm from
Brooklyn, and they recognize me."
"What the hell's Brooklyn got to do with a winning
streak?" Chet demanded.
"With an Irish fireman for a Pop, and Brooklyn behind
you, you can't lose. Say, how'd you guys wangle a rear ad-
"This is the gyrenes, soldier. That makes a difference."
"Yeah," Lynch said, head cocked. "But what if the chap-
lain passed by and heard you?"
The man called Spence laughed. "Shows how much the
Army knows. Marines ain't got no chaplain, Brooklyn. The
Navy takes cares of us, body and soul."
"You mean you don't go to services?"
"That's right. When there's a battlewagon in, we're sup-
posed to show. But what the hell's that got to do with the
price of radishes in China? Play poker."
"I pass this one," Lynch said. "Don't s'pose any of you
"Three of us," George snapped. "Say, what the hell is this
anyway, a prayer meeting?"
"Nope," Lynch said. "Just wondered if any of you want
a chance to win back some of this dough."
"The night's young, feller. We got plenty chance yet,"
"Sorry. I got a date with a guy," Lynch said.
"You mean you're fixin' to quit now you got all the
dough?" Chet was turning ugly.
"Gotta," Lynch grinned. "But if you guys come over to
the All-Services Chapel Sunday night to six o'clock Mass,
111 give you your chance afterwards."
Chet jumped up. "What the hell is this, a gag?"
George's eyes narrowed. "Shut up, Chet. Just who are
"Father Lawrence Lynch, Chaplain, attached to . . ."
"Of all the dirty . , ." Chet stopped him.
"Stow it," George snapped, and Spence spoke simulta-
neously, "Shut up, Chet." Mack grunted, "Quiet, you damned
"Hey!" Lynch said. "The guy's got a right to say what he
wants." Most of them were on their feet now, and Lynch
got up slowly. "Maybe after he's said it, hell feel better
and I can make that deal for Sunday."
Chefs back was ramrod-stiff. "Sir, I ..."
Lynch laughed. "You going mighty formal now, Chet!"
"Lynch!" George said, thoughtful. "Gripes. I met a guy
came on a ship with a padre named Lynch. Could be ...
*Tm afraid there's no doubt about it," Lynch smiled.
Chet's anger was beyond control. "I don't care who he is,
it was a stinking, lousy trick and by God, if he wasn't an
officer, I'd . . ."
Lynch's eyes blazed, but his voice was gentle. "You didn't
know two minutes back that I've got rank," he said to Chet,
rolling up his sleeves. "You don't know it now. I've got no
insignia showing and you've got a right to tangle with any
G.I. who's willing to tangle with you. And any man who
says different, I'll swear he's lying."
Chet flushed, but before he could move, Spence stood
between the two men. "Father, maybe you should know.
Chet's our boxing champ/'
Lynch assessed the tall, broad-shouldered marine who
glared down at him and shrugged. "My offer still stands,"
Suddenly, the humor of it struck Chet. He laughed sheep-
ishly. "Okay, Brooklyn. Skip it." The tension was gone as
suddenly as it had come. "Just tell me one thing. Who in
hell . . . excuse me, Padre . . ,"
"Hell's a good word. Go on, Chet."
"Who taught you to play poker? And don't give us that
"A couple of marines on the way out here," the priest
grinned. "Matter of fact, my Mom would have scalped me
if she ever caught me playing cards for money/'
"How come you ... I mean . . ." Mack looked from
Lynch to the money on the floor. "That's all yours. Yon
weren't planning on letting us win it back?"
"Certainly not/' Lynch said. "I'm not bribing you. If yon
get it back, it's because you win it."
"Sure. But I thought . . . aren't you priests, that is ..."
Lynch waited, but Mack couldn't go on. At last the priest
looked from one man to another until he had scanned the
entire circle of faces. "You want to know how I, a priest,
can keep money?" he asked at last. "Til tell you, but you've
got to give me your word you'll keep it a secret." Once again
the dark eyes searched each face, and each man in turn
nodded. "The day after I landed, I heard about Ducos."
Chet gasped. "Ducos! Padre, that's out of bounds!"
Spence looked scared. "The lepers!" he whispered.
Mack's face turned brick red. "You been there?" When
Lynch nodded, he wiped his forehead with the palm of his
hand. "You gonna send your winnings to Ducos? Sorry,
Padre. Make believe I ain't said nothing."
Lynch nodded again. "You promised, remember. And
now, what about my deal?"
"You got a deal, Father," George said, quiet.
Lynch glanced at his watch. "Yipes, I've kept that exec
waiting for nearly two hours. I'll catch it sure." He was
gone before they realized that he intended leaving.
"My God!" Chet breathed. "That guy shoulda been an
"What about it, Chet? Sunday, I mean?"
Chet groaned. "Now I gotta go to church yet!"
"You mean ynu're really going?"
"You're all going/* George said firmly. "You gave your
word, and by God, 111 see you keep it."
"George is right," Chet said. "And if he needs help . . *
Lt Harry Coster, executive officer of the naval procure-
ment depot, puffed restlessly on his limp cigarette, lit an-
other from its half-burned stub, and inhaled deeply. He
wished fervently that the man who sat in his office would
go. He cursed himself for agreeing to this appointment. He
wondered what his visitor wanted.
The chaplain had talked about everything under the sun
except why he had telephoned for this appointment. He
had been inexcusably late; he hadn't even apologized or
explained. God! This lousy war! You were at the beck and
call of every crackpot with an ax to grind. And chaplains
were the worst. Always wanted more than anybody else. A
bunch of procurers, always grubbing for some sort of stake.
"My Mom used to say it wasn't safe to give me an inch!"
the chaplain was saying. "But you've got to know Mom be-
fore you cansay, it's not so far from Jersey to Brooklyn.
What about it, Lieutenant? If I give you the address, will
you pop in and see Mom one day?"
"Sure, Father. Sure," Coster said, hoping to stem the tide.
"Now, if youll tell me what you want."
"I promised Mom she'd hear from me every day of her
life, and I've figured out a routine . . ."
*Ym sorry, Father/' Perhaps a firm approach would do it.
Tve got a report to turn in at SOPAC. I'm late already."
"Why didn't you say so before?" Lynch asked, sitting up
straight, eyes bright. "My gosh, if I'd known, I'd never all
right, Lieutenant. I won't hold you up, and I really am
"If you'll just tell me what you want, Father." That girl
in Noumea wouldn't wait forever; she'd get a kick out of
becoming a report to SOPAC but hell, it was the only thing
could make this . . . His thoughts stopped, shocked into
attention by the chaplain's words.
*. . . and if you'll get us the matzoth and kosher wine . . "
"I beg your pardon, Father?"
"You haven't been listening!" Lynch said reproachfully.
"Of course I have/' Coster protested. "But I thought you
said you wanted matzoth and kosher wine."
"I did," Lynch said. "You can't have a Seder without them,
and you know how it is in the Army. There's to be a cele-
bration at the base hospital, and if I went to the High Com-
mand and asked for matzoth and kosher wine for the 42nd
QM Mobile . . ."
<f l didn't know you'd become attached to the 42nd," Coster
"I haven't. I'm still officially Island Command, but . . .
weVe sort of adopted each other."
"Why can't the men of the 42iid go to the hospital for
"There's over a hundred of them. And getting them to
town . . "
"But you can't conduct a Jewish Seder, Father!" Coster
had actually forgotten for the moment the girl who waited
down in Noumea. "Why, I've never heard of such a thing!
It ... it's indecent. It's against regulations. I ... you . . .
you re ^ . . . I understood you re a . . /' He stopped, afraid
of saying the wron g thing.
9 Lynch n^ded. "That's right. I am a Catholic priest But
I'm also a chay.^ an( j ^ on iy one near g^ug^ to the
42nd to be of help v, ^ men ^ it
"But a rabbi ... I m^ n ^ ^
"You know where there is
we can impress j^ serv .
"As a matter of fact, I know there a~> severa l m t ^ Coster
began and stopped.
"Exactly," Lynch said. "The island of New
an area of over six thousand square miles,
armed forces are spread out over distances from one c^
the island to the other, or so it seems to me. Of course, T
haven't been here long enough yet to know ? but they tell me
the 42nd has been called the fatherless tank battalion be-
cause they've never had a chaplain."
"All the same, Father, a Passover celebration isn't like a
... a ... Catholic Mass. You don't just decide to have
one and have it! You've got to follow the rules. The food,
it's got to be prepared by . . "
"I know," Lynch interrupted. "I can arrange for that."
"But if you've got a kosher cook, he could make matzoth. 3 "
Lynch smiled. "I wouldn't exactly call him a kosher cook.
Of course we'll sterilize the utensils, and hell follow the
rules to the letter, but I don't think even McCarthy can
"McCarthy?" Coster gagged on the name.
"Company cook for the 42nd. So if you'll guarantee tie
matzoth and wine . . ." he shrugged. "It'd be a cinqk for
the Navy, but you know how it is in the Army." _/'
Coster nodded, his mouth feeling stiff. "You!, get your
matzoth and wine, Father. It'll take doing, '
Lynch stood up immediately. "Bless pX Lieutenant. Now,
I'll get out of your hair and let yoj^* to your date. Thanks
1 r, 1
That's all right, Fathe^ oster murmured. For the mo-
ment, the crack abopX^ date went unnoticed, even the
date itself forgotV^^ atzot '' 1 an< ^ kosher wineand a Seder
coolfei by l^ky- Great God!
Long before it was time for the Sunday evening Mass to
begin, Glenn Kittler was at the chapel because Lynch had
told him to be there. He didn't mind that too much, but he
had no intention of permitting the priest to detain him after
Mass. He had a date in town for dinner and had arranged for
a ride in a supply depot jeep. He hoped fervently that
Lynch wouldn't preach, wouldn't take too much time getting
started, wouldn't go through his "vestment routine."
Lynch arrived shortly after five and increased Kittler's
irritation by patrolling up and down the company street,
hailing every passing soldier, calling an unbelievable num-
ber of them by first name, seeming almost to force them into
the chapel. There was something wrong about it, something
cheap, Kittler thought. Like an evangelist getting customers
for a revival meeting.
The strange thing was the number of men sailors, marines,
soldiers who headed directly into the chapel! Stranger still,
it seemed obvioip that many of them were not Catholics.
Long before he lighted the altar candles, Kittler thanked
his stars he had had the foresight to borrow extra benches
from the mess to fill the open space made by the new parti-
He had assumed Lynch would "put on an act" with the
vestments and. laid them out in full view, but when the
sailor from SOPAC who was to be his second server asked
"Is he gonna put on a show?" Kittler snapped at him in fury,
irritated that his own thought had been verbally expressed.
Lynch went to the altar, put on his robes, Deposited the
covered chalice, stepped back and began the Masz without
any preliminary comment. He read the Gospel, and Kittler
bit his lip: Lynch intended to preach! He might have known.
He expected bombast; instead, Lynch spoke quietly.
"You remember how that company clerk pestered you un-
til you took that application form and signed up for your
$10,000 government life insurance? Life insurance is a great
idea, and you're glad you're insured. Lucky for you too that
you have a steady job so you can meet the monthly pay-
ments." His voice filled the stillness of the chapel.
"Of course, no insurance can keep, preserve, safeguard and
insure your never losing your natural life. Yet there is an
insurance which will build up your soul's life. Not alone build
it up, but keep it healthy, preserve it so that you can never
"This insurance is Holy Communion. You have to make
your monthly payments too. The simplest statement of the
policy is "HOLY COMMUNION ONCE EVERY MONTH EVERY YEAR
OF YOUR LIFE/ That's your contract, men. And you can't af-
ford to let a month go by without paying.
"7 am the resurrection and the life" That is your bene-
fits: Life of the soul and resurrection of theJatSdy. See, even
the body cannot lose its life since Christ, by reason of the
Blessed Sacrament, will give the girof His resurrection to
"Now, along with this lifc^ insurance, you will have to
have accident and fire Insurance. Regular inspections, re-
pairing possible traps- 'and patching the tires each month.
That helps. jMt is your Examination of Conscience. That
is your cb^ck list. Take that list to the insurance office the
coj^fe^sional. Take it to your insurance agent your priest.
Monthly Confession is the only way to patch up the past
accidents and avoid absolutely any further smashups or acci-
dents of mortal sin.
"Every mortal sin is a three-alarm blaze. All hell breaks
loose and one flame fans another, and soon your soul is a
roaring inferno, your conscience hell on earth/*
His gestures were meager, his enunciation clear and sharp.
He was talking in a casual, intimate way to each man, reach-
ing out to them, talking a language they understood. He
paused briefly to make his point the more emphatic.
"Are you protected? Do yon carry life insurance? Have
you paid up on the accident and fire insurance?
"This is strictly business talk. How's business ... of your
salvation? In case of accident the accident of mortal sin-
call on a priest in Confession. You can tell how you're listed
in Heaven's Dun and Bradstreet by asking yourself when
was your last Confession and Communion.
"What about back payments? Are they long overdue?
Your priest is your good insurance salesman. Get around and
see him pronto, immediately, and insure your eternal life
against eternal death, accident or fire by a good Confession
and Holy Communion.
"Immediately after Mass, I'll be waiting for you. God bless
you and keep you smiling always/'
He raised his hand in the sign of the cross over them,
turned and began the Credo. Glenn Kittler, kneeling behind
him, made the response at its conclusion automatically, his
mind in a tumult of conflict It had been so short, so pungent!
It had lasted less than three minutes! The men had liked it!
It had been addressed to the Catholic men; Lynch had
simply ignored the others. Then, why had he gotten them
there? There could be no doubt about the fact that he, and
he alone, was responsible for their presence in the chapel
at that time.
The Mass ritual went on through the beginning of the
Offertory, the washing of hands, to the moment when the
priest turned and said aloud: "Orate, fratres; ut meum ac
vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem
omnipatentem" When he had finished, Lynch stood there,
hands uplifted, waiting; most of the men looked up, wonder-
ing what was to come.
"Did you hear that, men?" Lynch spoke quietly as before,
but every man heard him. ft 'Orate fratres'fx&y, brethren.
That means you each one of you; 'Pray that my sacrifice and
yours may be acceptable to God, the Father Almighty. 9 It
doesn't matter what your religion is those of you who are
not Catholic. You are sharing in this sacrifice I am about to
offer to God, the Father Almighty. Pray with me now, for
you are as much a part of this as I am. Pray that my sacrifice
and yours may be acceptable to God."
When the Mass was over, Kittler wasn't sure whether he
was annoyed at Lynch for what he felt was lack of respect
for the Mass, or whether he was annoyed at himself for let-
ting the priest make an impression on him, because he could
not deny to himself that Lynch had made an impression.
He began packing the Mass kit hurriedly, noticing with-
out interest the long lines forming outside the confessional.
He was in a hurry; he had a jeep waiting to take him to a
delightful evening in town. The chaplain would be stuck
there for a long time by the looks of it.
When Father Lynch finished his prayers of thanksgiving,
he passed close to Kittler on his way to the confessional and
said, "Wait for me, Champ. There's something we've got to
Kittler started to explain, but stopped. The priest was no
longer there. Anger welled up in him and his fingernails dug
into his palms as he stood still, cursing. For a brief moment,
he was tempted to ignore the order, but there are some
things not even a chaplain's assistant can do in the Army in
Glenn Kittler went to find the supply sergeant and the
jeep determined that one day, somehow, Father Lawrence
E. Lynch would pay for his disappointment.
The days and weeks that followed should have formed
themselves into a patterna routine into which a man's job
falls and in which he can make plans for tomorrow and to-
morrow. But this was never true with Glenn Kittler's job as
assistant chaplain to Father Lawrence Lynch.
He never knew, when he got up in the morning, what the
day would hold for him. He could be sure of one thing only:
that sometime during the day, and somewhere on New
Caledonia, he would serve a Mass. In the beginning, he used
to anticipate Lynch by setting up the Mass kit in the All-
Services Chapel, but so often did the chaplain breeze in,
ordering him to pack the kit because he had arranged to say
Mass somewhere else, that Kittler decided to wait until the
last minute before starting. He hoped sometimes that it
annoyed Lynch to have to wait and stubbornly refused to
ask the priest beforehand where and when the Mass would
Lynch made no sign that he noticed it. In fact it seemed
to Kittler that Lynch deliberately ignored him unless he
wanted something extraordinary done.
And Lynch had some extraordinary ideas. Never a day
passed but he thought of some new scheme, some new con-
struction plan, and always, as in the case of the chapel and
the seabees, it was Lynch who started the job and Kittler
who had to carry it through to its conclusion. The priest had
a genius for getting whatever he wanted. Kittler thought of
him as the "greatest procurer in the world." But it was Glenn
Kittler who had to become the politician, the good friend of
supply sergeants, the stevedore to warehouse managers, the
assistant to procurement officers and men on K.P. duty alike.
Kittler's bitterness and dislike for the chaplain grew like a
canker, yet he managed to conceal his reactions, speaking
seldom, going about his work and accomplishing the virtu-
ally impossible at the behest of the chaplain. Lynch wanted
a choir; Kittler got one, organized it, led it, though he was
admittedly no musician. Lynch decided the 42nd needed a
recreation room; Kittler got one, then had to keep it clean.
Lynch wanted an athletic supply for the "Rec Room"; he
got it and his assistant had charge of it. He wanted a library
built into one corner of the room; he started the job and
Kittler finished it.
Lynch had a habit of telling any man on the island who
had a problem that "Kittler will fix it." Once a dog belong-
ing to the mailroom crew became ill, and the men brought
it to Kittler. He could find no vet, and it took him hours to
persuade a doctor to officiate, but it was done. A steady
stream of men came to the office for one thing or another
invited by Lynchbut it was Kittler who became teacher,
adviser, priest to most of them.
But more than anything else, Lynch's habit of disappear-
ing for hours at a stretch infuriated his assistant. The wine
supply had dwindled to almost nothing, but when Kittler
tried to find the priest to warn him of it, Lynch had vanished
and immediately after Mass I Part of Kittler's job was re-
sponsibility to the High Command for his superior. He was
expected to know where the priest was and to get him when
he was wanted, but most of the time, he had no notion
where Lynch went on his mysterious errands.
One morning Lt. Col. Klein telephoned. He wanted Lynch
and he wanted him immediately. Kittler said he'd try to lo-
cate the priest, but when Klein called for the fourth time at
noon, there was still no sign of Lynch. By five o'clock, Kittler
had reached the boiling point, and when Lynch breezed
in, sunburned and beaming, with his usual, gay "Hi-ya,
Champ!" Kittler was ready for him.
"Where Ve you been?" he demanded. "I've been trying to
find you all day!"
"On a picnic," Lynch grinned.
"You might have told me," Kittler snapped,
"Maybe I was scared you wouldn't let me go," he said.
This made Kittler suddenly aware of their relative posi-
tions. "Colonel Klein wants to see you, sir," he said stiffly.
"He has been calling since this morning."
Lynch moved quickly to his assistant's side, touched his
shoulder lightly. "Don't be irked with me, Champ," he said,
an odd appeal in his tone.
Kittler's fists clenched, and his face became red. He started
to speak, but Lynch stopped him with a laugh. "I'll bet by
now Klein's good and mad. One thing you can always count
on, Champ. When a guy's angry, you can do what you want
with him. His defenses are down and he's fair game."
Whether it was meant as a lesson or a warning, Kittler
never knew. Without giving him time to answer, Lynch
swung on his heel and was gone, leaving his assistant de-
feated, frustrated, furiously angry both at himself and at the
Lt. Col. Julius Klein was half sitting, half lying on his
bunk when Lynch finally found him. His face was blue, and
he was fighting for breath. The priest moved swiftly. "Here.
Stretch out flat." He swung the man's whole body, lifting his
legs so that he lay full length on the cot.
'1 ... don't . . . want . . . Father . . ."
"Shut up," Lynch ordered, beginning to take off Klein's
shoes. "Open your belt, if you can."
"Please . . ." Klein tried again,
"If you don't shut up, I'll make you," Lynch threatened,
sliding a pillow under Klein's head, working it down under
his shoulders and propping him up with it so that he rested
against the head of the bed. "Now you sit tight and I'll get
the medic in."
"No," Klein said, his eyes dilated and his lips still blue.
"I don't . . . want . . . anyone ... to know. It'll pass."
"Sure. So will you," Lynch snapped.
"They'll . . . ship me out. I ... I ... can't ... go now.
Just overwork. A little . . . tired. The 523rd . . ."
"Yeah, I know. Had this before?" Klein's eyes blinked and
he nodded. "As bad as this?"
"Sure," Klein gasped. His eyes flickered and the word
wasn't as emphatic as he obviously intended it to be.
"You're lying/' Lynch said. "Don't you know yet you can't
lie to me? Ever had a doctorthose other times?"
"In an hour . . . Ill be fit as . . ."
"Nuts/' Lynch said. "I'm going for the medic."
Color was returning to the pinched, gray face. "Father,
please. They'll ship me out and I can't go now. I've got a job
"Sure. I know all about that. But a dead man's not much
use in this man's Army. You've got to have a medic, and I'm
going to get you one."
"It's my ticker and my responsibility," Klein began, but
again Lynch stopped him.
"No. You made it my responsibility when you sent for me ?
and I can't accept it as such unless you have a doctor in.
Since I can't refuse it and quit on you, you've got no choice."
At the door, he turned and winked. "I know a guy. He's in
the Navy. He'll come see an old plug-ugly with a bum
Relief showed in Klein's eyes. "Thanks. Then nobody need
But Lynch was evasive. "We'll see about that" he said,
"after we hear what Pat Sheehan has to say. Where's Harry?"
"I ... sent him off ... this morning. When the pain
"I suppose you told him you had indigestion," Lynch
guessed, and Klein nodded. "You think Harry's a fool?"
"In a coupla hours . . . thisll pass. I left the office as soon
as it started/'
"All right/' Lynch persisted. "But you could pass with it,
like I said. Now, don't you move not even a finger till I
get back." He made no sound as he closed the door.
Klein had no idea how long it was before Lynch returned,
but when he did, he was followed by a lieutenant com-
"Meet Pat Sheehan, Colonel Julius. He's from Brooklyn
too and that makes him a right guy." His light tone changed
when he turned to his companion. "Give him the works, Pat.
And don't listen to any of his bilge."
The doctor pulled a stethoscope out of his pocket and
moved toward the cot. "Father Larry is building himself a
reputation. Around Turtle Bay there's a saying if a thing's
not nailed down, it's not safe when Brooklyn's around. Now
he's snitching navy lingo for the Army." While he talked, he
worked, his movements swift, effortless, assured. "Can you
breathe deeper, please?"
"I ... I'm afraid I ... can't," Klein gasped.
The doctor nodded, took his blood pressure without com-
ment, pulled a hypodermic case from another pocket "I'm
going to put you to sleep, but medicine's not enough for this
sort of thing you know."
"What'd you tell him?" Klein asked Lynch accusingly.
"I didn't. When he gets through poking and pinching you,
he 11 tell you. Right, Pat?"
The doctor wiped Klein's arm where the needle had dug
in. "What do you want me to tell him, Father?"
Lynch looked at him swiftly, then back at Klein. "Wait.
Colonel Julius, you want it straight?"
Klein nodded, fear clouding his eyes.
Lynch said, his eyes on Klein: "Give it to him, Pat. He can
take it and I want you to know, Colonel Julius, I haven't
discussed it with him/*
"It's not good, sir," Sheehan said. "A bum ticker, like
Father said when he asked me to come. Coupled with high
blood pressure, overwork, and too many of those/' he pointed
to the dead cigar on the table. "Two-three days in bed here,
maybe. But after that out!" His gesture was eloquent
"As bad as that?" Lynch asked, startled.
"Could be worse, Father. I'd prefer to have him in sick
Klein's mouth, less blue now, set in a tight line, his eyes
were on Lynch. "I trusted you . . ." he began, but the priest
stopped him. "You're too old to try walking a tightrope now."
Lynch turned to the doctor. "Pat, if he obeys orders . . . ?"
"His chances would be as good as the next man's, no bet-
"And if he ships out?"
"A whole lot better. How long since you had leave, sir?"
Klein's eyes flickered and Lynch laughed. "Don't believe
him, Pat. He's going to lie. From what he's told me, I think
close to three years."
"They won't let me come back if I go now," Klein mut-
tered. "I've got to finish the reorganization of the 523rd. Tve
got to stay." His eyes began to glaze as the opiate took effect.
Then he was asleep.
"He won't go/' Lynch said with certainty. "Could be
maybe he could have grippe here a few days maybe you'd
sort of drop by for a game of pinochle?"
"It could be, Father, but frankly I don't like it. Complete
rest . . .
"Know what I've discovered? When a guy's got his heart
set on doing a job, he can usually take plenty of punishment
doing it," Lynch said.
"Right, but when a guy's heart stops working, he dies.
He'll do for nine-ten hours. When he wakes he'U be feel-
ing chipper. Keep him flat and I'll be over after chow for
that game of pinochle."
"Thanks, Pat. And God bless you. Come along and I'll take
you back to Turtle Bay."
Glenn Kittler had spent many hours in serious and search-
ing thought since the moment Lynch left to see Klein. He
had tried to evaluate the chaplain, tried desperately hard.
And now he had come to a decision.
Lynch's inexhaustible energy very nearly overpowered the
slower, more methodical Kittler. His easy, rough comarad-
erie with the enlisted men was, in the eyes of his sober and
sedate assistant, vulgar. His lack of what Battler called re-
straint, Ms undignified attitude with regard to his position as
chaplain, were inexcusable.
Yet Lynch was a perfectionist in the matter of work, and
demanded the same perfection in his assistant, without
keeping him informed of details of which he should have
Kittler resented the fact that Lynch could goad him to
open anger. He was revolted by the priest's intimacy with
some of the men. It was the only word he could think of to
describe what he considered unpriestly actions as, for ex-
ample, the day he heard Lynch's voice from a shack along
the company street:
**! love you very much. You're the only girl in the world
for me and , . ."
Kittler had paused, waiting for the voice to go on. When it
did, the priest said:
"But look, Fred, don't you think you should tell her you're
saving all that money for her?"
"Hun-nuh, Father Larry. Leave us skip that. If she's gonna
wait, she's gonna wait. If she ain't, I don't want her if she
only wants my dough."
That was a job he, Kittler, should have been doing. No
one knew better how many men there were in the army who
couldn't write letters. He had written many such letters, and
that was his job.
Most of all, Kittler resented this business of Lynda's "mar-
riage" to the 42nd QM Mobile, Lawrence Lynch was Cath-
olic chaplain for all service troops in the Island Command
with no chaplain of their own; this business of Klein calling
him and of Lynch obeying the call griped him almost be-
yond endurance. Lynch, and Lynch's assistant, were at-
tached to the Island Command, not to the 42nd.
He had no idea when Lynch's light went on. He was in his
own shack, bent over his portable typewriter, working on
the final draft of his request for transfer. He didn't plan to
discuss it with his superior, but simply to put it on his desk
for signature. Lynch had to okay it, of course. And Kittler
was sure he would without question.
He wasn't aware his door had opened or that Lynch stood
behind him, watching him through narrowed eyes. His back
stiffened when he heard the familiar chuckle, the jeer in
Lynch's gay voice.
"So you're gonna quit me?" He couldnt know what Kittler
was writing! "G'wan. I know what you're thinking. IVe
known for a long time." Kittler yanked the request for trans-
fer out of the machine and swung around, eyes blazing, face
hot. "J ust a Brooklyn bum! Huh?" Incredible how the man
could read ones mind. "Come on, Champ. That's it ain't it?"
If anything, the lapse into what Kittlea: termed "The Act"
only added fuel to the flame of his anger. He was standing,
unconscious of having gotten up. This time he was deter-
mined not to become involved in any sort of verbal duel with
this man who always managed to defeat him.
"You don't like it/' Lynch was saying, exaggerating the
roughness. "You'll never like me. You don't like the way I
work. Admit it, wretch. You think I'm no good, but why
don't you say it out loud? Come on, ya louse!" Suddenly the
tough stance changed, the harsh voice became a chuckle.
"May as well, you know, Glenn. You would have to answer
if I asked you in confession, you can't lie in there!" With one
of those lighteninglike changes, the mobile face sobered.
Lynch put his hand on the younger man's shoulder. Dark
eyes searched gray-blue eyes which at first refused to meet
"Okay, Champ. You win. Let's have it out? The whole
Glenn Kittler knew he was beaten again. He didn't want
to talk, but the words poured out "I've worked with other
priests two of them before you. I never had any trouble
before, but you . . . you . . . heck, you drive a man mad.
I can't figure you, Father, I just can't.'*
"What can't you figure, Glenn?"
Battler's mouth was dry; his fingers trembled and his face
was hot. "I'm no mind reader. I don't know half the time
where you are, what you want done, what you're up to. I'm
responsible to the Command when you're wanted, but I
never know where to start looking."
"That's not all of it," Lynch said. "It'll make things easier
if you spill it all now. Get it off your chest not that stuff
you just threw at me, but the real gripe."
"All right," Kittler snapped. "If you want it that way. Some
of the guys say . . . they think you're . . . common.
You've got no ... no priestly dignity. They say . . . they
think . . ."
"The point is, you feel that way, too, isn't it?"
"I ... I guess that's it," Kittler said.
"So you're asking for a transfer?"
"I figured . . . I've been thinking for a long time maybe
it'd be better if I transferred out and let someone of your
own type take over."
"Just what is my type, Glenn?" Lynch was probing re-
lentlessly, pushing him to a wall, forcing him to say things
he had never meant to say.
"I dunno, Father. I just can't figure you. I guess if s what
they call an inferiority complex/'
Larry Lynch's eyes opened wide and a dark stain touched
his cheek. "You can't stop now. Go on. What makes you think
I've got an inferiority complex?"
"I don't know!" Kittler said, helpless. "Maybe the way you
. . . you cater to the mob. This Brooklyn routine of yours
. . . your . . . your good-fellow act . . . as if it's self-glori-
fication. Sometimes you act like you're the buddy of every
guy on the post."
"Is that bad?" Lynch asked.
"That's not what I mean. It's not . . . Oh, hell. I can't ex-
plain it. Sometimes you act like you're a kingpin; there's
nothing too big for you. Why, I wouldn't put it past you to
pull any kind of stunt even to staging a Mission in St. Jo-
seph's Cathedral and expecting the whole Island Command
to show. The fact that nobody's made a successful Mission
there would automatically suggest to you that you re the guy
to do it and get the place mobbed. It's something I can't
Lynch waited, motionless. When Kittler stopped, the priest
shook his head. "You're mixed up, Champ. And you're all
wrong, in spots. So I act like a bum? But did you notice how
often it pays off? I rave about Brooklyn some of the fellows
even call me Brooklyn. But that routine, as you call it, is al-
ways good for a laugh; and when a man laughs, like when
he's angry, you can reach him. Sure I could sit here in the
office all day; that'd be a cinch. But what about the guys who
wont come in here? The fellows who really need me won't
come looking for me; I've got to go to them."
"But that doesn't excuse all the . . ." Kittler stopped
abruptly, suddenly conscious of where his thoughts were
"Say it out loud, Glenn. WeVe not mincing words now.
Cheapness. Commonness. Are those the words you were
thinking? All right. Let's use them. But suppose I knew you
had no religion and I tried to sell it to you right off the bat,
would you buy it? If you talk a language a man understands,
you get his attention. You've got to be one of them, make
them like you, forget you're different; and you can bring
them around. My system works/*
Kittler glanced at the request for transfer. "All the same,
Father, it seems to me . . .*
"Hun-nuh, Champ. I've known for a long time how you
felt; don't ever expect me to change to your way of think-
ing. You'll change to mine eventually; you'll see I'm right,
too. But you've got to stick around. You've got to be here to
see I'm right. You'll stick because I can't get along without
you and you know it!"
"All right, Father/' Kittler conceded, to his own surprise.
"I'll stick, but at least you know where I stand."
Lynch's hand dug into his shoulder. He nodded, turned
and started for the door, stopped and looked back. "By the
way, that's a swell idea of yours. St. Joseph's Cathedral
should hold a lot of guys. How about starting the Mission on
April 17th? That should give us time. Get some notices
printed, will you? We'll send out letters to all service men on
the Island. Like you said, maybe we can get the whole Is-
land Command to show."
Kittler stood staring at the closed door, then sank into his
chair. "Damn!" he muttered
It was late morning when Lynch entered the shack where
Lt. Col. Klein lay on his cot, propped high, reading a com-
pany report and smoking a long, fat cigar. His color was
better and his eyes were no longer glassy, but now they
were ringed by dark, heavy circles.
Without preamble, Lynch went to him, took the bulky
report out of his hands and the cigar out of his mouth. "Flat,
Pat said. And that means flat with no work and no smok-
"But Tm fine. Fine. Feel like a new man. All I needed was
a good sleep and I slept like a baby."
"Okay," Lynch said. "So you want the medics in."
"It was just a passing spell, Father. Honest. I ..."
"Do you want me to turn in a report?" Lynch asked.
"Certainly not. You promised."
"Very well, then. Now, I want your word, Colonel Julius.
As an officer and a gentleman, if you are one. You'll stay in
that bunk till Pat Sheehan gives you permission to get up or
111 report you to General Gilbreath himself if I have to."
"Good Lord, Father, you've got a bunk like this. You know
what it feels like!" Klein pleaded, but Lynch was adamant
"Do I get your word?"
Klein capitulated. "You win, but it means youll have to
do liaison between the Command and this room. Of course,
we'll have to tell Harry something, but . . ."
"I'm still waiting for your word, Colonel Julius/* Lynch
"I promise to stay put till Sheehan releases me. Is that all
Lynch nodded. "Pat looks young, but he's quite a lad. One
of the best heart men in this man's Navy. You sure do meet
up with all kinds of people in the service. Rabbi Chapman,
now . . r
"You said I wasn't to be disturbed," Klein said, as if ward-
ing off a blow. "If you want the other Island Command chap-
lains to pool their wine, that's your lookout. You leave me
be." Klein made a face, pushed his sparse hair back. "I'm a
sick man," he said. "With Passover coming up . . ."
"We'll have plenty when we get it for the 42nd Seder/'
Lynch said. "And by the way, don't forget we're counting on
you to head the Seder."
"Father, don't you realize Passover begins at sundown on
Good Friday?" Automatically, he put the cigar back into his
mouth; Lynch took it from him and put it back on the table.
"I've already told you; you're to conduct the service, not
me if that's what's worrying you. Didn't you tell me once
you're from a rabbinical family? I've arranged for the
matzoth and kosher wine, and McCarthy will prepare the
Once again, Klein started to get up. "No! This cant hap-
pen to me. It can't. McCarthy preparing a Seder! My God!"
"You've got nothing to worry about, except, of course,
youVe got to study up on all the ritual and prayers. That's
one thing you can do, lying here."
"Look here, Father. When the Elihu Thompson went
down, you explained why you learned Hebrew, but this . . .
I don't get it.*
"It's my job to understand the symbolism of all faiths so
that I may teach the Catholic faith to a man originally of
another, if he wants to learn it. I'm not saying I know the
whole Seder ceremony, but I have studied it enough to know
"I suppose I should have expected it," Klein grunted.
"Next thing I know you'll be trying to make me into a Cath-
Lynch eyed him quizzically. "You know, Colonel Julius,
that's not a bad idea."
"Hey! You leave me be! I'll handle your Seder, 'specially
since I've got no choice. But all the same, if you figger to
talk Rabbi Chapman into pooling his wine with you that's
Lynch laughed. "You know, I don't think I'll bother. I've
got a better idea. Now, my friend, for a few minutes we're
going to disobey Commander Patrick Sheehan. Get in there,"
he indicated a curtained doorway, "and stay there, and for
the love of heaven, don't peek."
"What's this all about?"
Lynch glanced at his watch, out the window, and down
at Klein. "Git!" he snapped. Klein got. He heard movement,
voices, but did not look, and tried not to decipher the whis-
pers. In a few minutes, Lynch called him back and literally
pushed him into bed. He sank into unbelievable ease and
comfort; after the hard bunk he knew he had a mattress
"Where in hell . . . where'd you get it?" he gasped,
"Short of stealing it/'
"Shush!" Lynch warned. "Borrowed. That's why I didn't
want you to see the guys who brought it. Just in case the
admiral should miss it and get ideas."
Klein wanted to get up, but Lynch kept him down. "The
admiral! You're mad. You must be. Get it outta here! Get it
out! If it's found here . . ,"
"It hasn't even been missed yet," Lynch grinned, "May as
well enjoy it while you can. Tomorrow's another day. And
meantime, the admiral's off on a jaunt, I hope."
The sick man didn't hear the last two words. Reassured, he
lay back, luxuriating in the softness under him. "I always did
say the Navy boys get all the breaks. Thanks, Rabbi Lynch.
Like you said, may as well enjoy it."
Had he known what the morrow would bring, it is doubt-
ful Klein would have slept at all that night.
St. Joseph's Cathedral stands proudly atop the highest of
all the hills in the city of Noumea. Its twin towers that
stretch like reverent fingers into blue skies seem to reach
across the land toward the port where troopships dock and
men pile down to the shore, inviting them all to come and
worship God Almighty. Between the towers a white cross
gleams, small, yet dominating.
The climb up Cathedral Hill is steep and long, the road
rocky and uneven, lined here and there with naoli shade
trees. Slanting streets turn off at sharp angles, and the per-
sistent rains wash rivers of mud from them which sometimes
become tiny hills at the street corners.
Father Lynch's jeep climbed Cathedral Hill easily and he
swirled it to a flourishing stop at a small postern gate behind
the cathedral a gate which leads through a lovely garden
to the rectory. He could see the stooped, bearded man who
bent over his vegetables, and guessed him to be Father
Noblet, pastor, and the object of his visit.
With his usual thoroughness, Larry Lynch had made it his
business to learn all he could about the cathedral and the
French priest from the beginning when the Marists had
first come to New Caledonia thirty years ago. He knew of
the struggle they had had, their labors among the New Cale-
donian natives, their difficulty in keeping the mission going
during the past few years. The old pastor's French had be-
come a French-Kanaka patois, difficult even for his com-
patriots to understand. Lynch had never mastered French,
and as yet knew little of the Kanak tongue.
He had no intention, however, of permitting language
difficulties to block his campaign, but when he saw the old
man puttering in his garden, his cassock a shiny, rusty black
in the early morning sun, pity clutched at his heart.
He rattled the knob on the gate, and the old priest looked
up, smiling and waving his hand, as he had greeted thou-
sands of Americans who found their way to his little garden.
He returned to his work, and Larry Lynch opened the gate.
"I'm Father Lynch of Brooklyn," he announced, more from
force of habit than anything else, forgetting entirely that
with his collar turned under and his cap stuck in his belt,
there was no sign of rank or calling to help the Marist priest
bridge the gulf of language. "I've come to borrow some of
Father Noblet looked up, smiled graciously, and with a
gesture offered Lynch the freedom of his garden.
Concentrating on what he wanted, Lynch tried to make
the priest understand, 'Tin fresh out of wine," he said, his
voice louder, trying to force comprehension in a tongue for-
eign to his listener. "You got any you can spare?"
"No speek 'Merican, M'sieu," Father Noblet used his one
stock phrase, and the form of address brought realization to
Lynch. He pulled out his collar, grinned, and pointed to the
tiny cross on the lapel "Padre," he said, still loud. "Vino.
Vinum. Vino for Mass," he said.
"Ah! Le vin pour la Messe, mon pere?* Understanding
lighted the old, lined face and Father Noblet beckoned
Lynch to follow him into the sacristy in the rear of the
cathedral. He went directly to a wall cabinet, opened a wine
case and took out a bottle of wine which he handed to the
American priest with the graciousness of a king bestowing
The walk across the threadbare oriental rug was enough
to make Lynch fully aware of the poverty around him. The
fine carved work on rare old wood that lined the room was
beautiful, but it showed the indefinable streaks caused by
dampness and humidity in the tropics. The furniture was
well made, but there was little of it; a once white wall closet
was slightly ajar, its warped doors swinging on rusted hinges,
and through the opening, Lynch caught a glimpse of thread-
He had a folded bill in his hand and tried to leave it un-
obtrusively on the table, but the old man saw it and shook
his head vehemently. "Mais non. Non, mon pre. C'est pour
le Bon Dieu"
Lynch flushed. "G'wan. Take it," he insisted as Father
Noblet tried to force it back into his hand. "Buy yourself a
cigar," he made a motion as of smoking. The old man smiled
and nodded. Very simply, he took the bill, said a soft
"Merci" and put it into his pocket with an old-world bow
which somehow conferred an honor by his acceptance of
It was then that Father Lynch broached the second object
of his visit. "Say, how's about us giving a Mission in there?"
he asked, his head indicating the cathedral. He experienced
a" sense of frustration when the Marist priest again smiled,
nodded, and indicated that he was welcome to go into the
cathedral. Once again he used a louder tone. "Missionaire/'
he said, accompanying the word with the sign of the cross.
He was rewarded by the light which instantly brightened
the old man's face.
"Ah, oui!" The Marist bobbed his head excitedly. "La
Mission. Mais oui! Bien sur"
Father Lynch grinned his relief. "Bon. Bon," he repeated.
"April 17" He took out his notebook and pen and wrote,
"Mission, April 17-April 23," tore the page out and handed
it to Father Noblet
There was complete understanding and great happiness in
the old, lined face, "Mais owl C'est possible et cest tres
Lynch indicated his desire to go into the cathedral, and
with a deep obeisance, the old Marist opened the door for
him, turned, and went out again into his garden.
Light filtered in from somewhere high in the great dome.
It sent a shimmering beam to outline the white figure of the
crucified Christ on its great golden cross over the tabernacle,
throwing the shadowed outline of the whole Crucifix onto
the white wall behind it; it glanced off the gold leaf of the
tabernacle, whitened the cream-aged white of the altar cloth
and the magnificent carved altar itself. Sharper, heavier sun-
beams accentuated the two white angel statues on bronze
pedestals which flanked either side of the altar.
The rows of beautifully carved wooden benches stretched
far back into the vast dimness of the cathedral, giving a deep
peace and serenity to the place.
As he knelt at the foot of the altar, some of this peace en-
tered the soul of Larry Lynch. Something about the cathe-
dral recalled vividly to his mind that far distant day when
he had officiated at his first High Mass, made him think of
Mom's lips opened, tongue extended, face lighted with love
and joy as her own son placed her own God on it. He thought
of his Pop, tears creeping down the wide Irish face, and of
Mary lovely, dark-haired, dark-eyed Mary. He had himself
performed the marriage ceremony for his sister the little
girl who had defended him because he had hated so much
The boys had been there too: Tom and Matt and Phil;
and Lillie-Anne; and the sweet young girl who was his sister
too, but who had become Sister Mary Joseph and no longer
belonged to them at all.
His eyes stung for a moment, and he prayed for the wel-
fare of each one of them, making once again the act of re-
nunciation by which he had dedicated them to the care of the
Mother of God, deeply, humbly grateful for the blessings
which had come to him.
"And now, O Lady of Perpetual Help, by that name I beg
you once more to come to my aid. This Mission we plan
needs your help and your blessing to make it successful. Men
who will come to it may not get another chance to attend
an earthly Mission; move their hearts so that they will come;
show us the way to help them, so that when they come be-
fore your Beloved Son in sudden death, they will be ready
and He will welcome them to His Sacred Heart. Give us
the words to say so that each one of them will receive Him
in the Holy Sacrament before the Mission is ended.
"O, my Mother, since it has pleased Your Beloved Son to
keep me here in this backwater of war, help me to help
others who will go forward to do His work; show us the way
to help them to be steadfast in the Faith, ever ready to do
His bidding, even unto death, so that we may all say with
one heart and one voice: Thy Will be done!"
During that day, Father Lynch was in and out of the
shack where Lt. Col. Klein rested on the soft navy mattress,
enjoying it to the full, actually studying up on the ritual of
Seder. Lynch had removed all other reading matter.
Lt. Commander Patrick Sheehan came early in the eve-
ning, and it was from him that Lynch and Klein heard the
"news which very nearly brought on another heart attack.
To Sheehan it was a tremendous joke. Someone had stolen
the admiral's own mattress a specially built job. His shoul-
ders shook with laughter over the discomfiture of the whole
naval base, but when he described the admiral's wrath and
added the statement that orders had been issued that "every
inch of the island was to be searched," Klein blanched.
He lay still until Sheehan left, but only because Lynch's
hand on his shoulder kept him down. The minute the door
closed, lie was out of bed and staring at the mattress as if it
had become a coiled snake. "'Get it outta here!'" he tried to
shout, but his voice was hoarse with anxiety. "Get it out! You
know whatll happen if it's found here?"
"It won't be/' Lynch soothed. "Relax, Colonel Julius. ItTl
take those MP's and SP's at least a couple of hours to cover
the bay area, much less . . ."
"You don't know when they started!'* Klein sputtered.
"How in hell you gonna get it back? If they find it here . . "
"They won't, I told you." Lynch was stripping the bed.
"We'll get it back the same way it came/' he said.
"Don't act dumb," Klein snapped. "You think two men
carrying a mattress won't be spotted a mile off with the
whole U.S. military police force searching for it? Why, be-
fore they go half a mile . . ."
"Oh, they're not going to carry it back," Lynch grinned,
remaking the cot. "Youre going to find it for the boys."
"Me?" Klein stared, horrified. "You gonna get me impli-
cated in this thing?" He began to look apoplectic. "You can't
do this to me."
"Relax, Colonel Julius. As C.O. of the 42nd, wouldn't you
be expected to know of this search? And what more natural
than that you should discover the admiral's lost mattress
stashed away in the quarry back of the amphitheater? Now,
when you find that out, what do you do? Why, you call
Turtle Bay and . . "
"Who's gonna get it to the quarry? You still got to get it
outta here, and soon as you try that . . ."
"You forget how dark it is outside?" Lynch finished mak-
ing up the cot. "Now, you get back in there, and turn your
face to the wall. And when I come back, keep it that way. 9 "
He patted Klein's head gently. "You leave it to me/* and
then he was gone.
The beginning of Lent had trebled Glenn Kittler's work,
and though the situation between himself and Lynch had
eased somewhat, two Masses a day one each morning and
night and all the extra services Lynch insisted on were be-
ginning to tell on him.
Plans for the Mission to begin April seventeenthjust eight
days after Easter had to be sandwiched in with his other
work, and every day Lynch came up with new ideas, new
plans, new work to be done. An organist would be required;
Kittler had to find one. Programs, schedules had to be pre-
pared and printed; Kittler had to get them done. Lynch
wanted a photographer; Kittler had to arrange for one.
By the time Palm Sunday came around, Glenn Kittler be-
gan to wonder if he could survive the nightmare which he
knew the last week of Lent would be.
On Monday morning, as the sun came up, he dragged his
weary body out of deep slumber and since it was too early
for the first mess, he went to the cookshack for breakfast.
McCarthy, the chief cook, could talk of nothing but Lynch's
active participation in the preparation of the Jewish Seder
to be held on Good Friday night, news of which had not
reached Kittler before.
Glenn Kittler would have resented being told that he was
intolerant; he would have denied being shocked; he would
have fought bitterly any suggestion that he was anti any-
Yet, he could not deny that Larry Lynch had managed to
flout his most deeply rooted religious principles, the funda-
mental beliefs by which he had been raised and by which
His resentment of the priest's camaraderie with the men
returned, multiplied a thousandfold by this newest desecra-
tion. The things he had voiced to Lynch, the "coarseness" he
had resented, were as nothing compared to this. Helping
with a Seder was bad enough, but doing it on the very night
of Good Friday! It seemed the last possible word in bad
taste. The coincidence of dates the fact that Good Friday
and the first Seder fell on April seventh was beside the
This time the priest had gone too far. This time his appli-
cation for transfer would go through. It was waiting on
The difficulty was that Lynch rarely bothered to look over
the papers on his desk, and Kittler saw him infrequently, ex-
cept at services, when it was out of the question to discuss
the matter. It was frustrating to wait a whole week, and he
took a mental vow that Easter Monday would settle the
matter for good and all.
He was up early and ready for Lynch that Monday morn-
ing. He headed for the office shack, and stopped when he
spotted the priest, sleeves rolled up, beside the jeep not far
from the cookshack. Father Lynch was methodically load-
ing it with a startling collection of food!
Puzzlement made Kittler pause; he could recall no special
occasion for this. Whatever Lynch was up to was a private
project of his own.
"Hi-ya, Champ," Lynch called over his shoulder. ''Don't
stand there gaping. Give me a hand with this stuff."
"What you doing, Father? Starting your own army?" Curi-
osity got the better of his annoyance.
"Nope/* Lynch grinned. "Just throwing a little party/'
Obviously the assistant was not expected to participate
in it, and this fact didn't help the situation.
"Just a little gathering of a few hundred or so?" Kittler
asked, his tone loaded with sarcasm. In spite of himself he
was helping load a case of canned peaches. "May I be per-
mitted to ask who for?"
"Sure," Lynch said. "It's for the Protestant chaplains on
the whole island. I threw one for the Catholics; remember
that day I went on the picnic? So I figured . . ." He stopped
to swing a heavy box onto the jeep.
"If the Protestants want a picnic, why can't they get their
own food?" Kittler asked.
"Because I got it just as easy for them as I got it for the
"I'll bet!" Kittler grunted, all his anger returning, "As if
we haven't got enough trouble already! First the Jewish
Seder on Good Friday and now . . . Seems like you're
showing a lot of concern for straying sheep, Father."
Lynch stopped work, turned and looked at Kittler, eyes
narrowed. Then he nodded. What he said was surprising;
more so was the conciliatory tone in which he said it.
"They're good guys, too, Champ. And that's important. Just
because a man wasn't born a Catholic is no sign he's going
to hell; a man who goes regularly to his own church, lives
up to its rules, obeys the letter and sense of the law he's got
a fair chance of heaven too/*
Tm not knocking the Protestants/* Kittler said, finding
himself on the defensive and furious about it. "You never
heard me . . ."
"I heard a guy tell a snide joke about Protestants a couple
days back. A guy named Hoary. A lot of the fellows .laughed,
including you. Like you thought it was funny."
"So it was/' Kittler said. "A darn good yarn . . ?
But Lynch stopped him. "A man's religion is one thing no-
body's got a right to joke about, and nobody's got a right to
ridicule it. You might remember that, Sergeant/' His voice
was cold, his look sober.
He climbed into the jeep, kicked the starter and was off.
A cloud of dust enveloped Kittler who stood there, fists
clenched. He could never explain afterwards why he swung
on his heels, went to the office, and furiously tore the appli-
cation for transfer into tiny pieces.
The days which followed were packed tight with work
for both the priest and his assistant. Lynch seemed to have
entirely forgotten their sharp encounter and, it seemed to
Kittler, went out of his way to be nice, considerate, even
The assistant could not understand his superior, nor could
he figure why he stuck to Lynch when his every inclination
was to ask for transfer. He told himself the priest was "put-
ting on an act," getting set to "put on a show" with the
It had to be a complete success so long as Lynch had a
hand in it, and to insure it, the man was tireless, nauseatingly
energetic. Every post on the island had to be visited; every
Catholic chaplain on the island had to be invited to partici-
"Look at itr Lynch waved the list of preachers at Battler,
who had spent more than two hours looking at it, making
programs and schedules. ''"Did anybody ever see such a list
of preachers for a Mission? Twelve, Champ! Twelve priests
joining together to preach the first American Mission in the
Pacific. That makes it six times bigger than any Mission any-
"Not the -first, Father/' Kittler said. "Not in the Pacific and
not even in the cathedral."
"You still don't think it'll be a success?" Lynch grinned.
"That's because you've got no faith. You don't know yet what
Our Lady of Perpetual Help can do, Champ. Stick around.
We're going to make this a communion drive. Well have
four priests hearing confessions every morning and night,
and before we're through, every Catholic man on the island
will be at the communion rail."
"You think guys will hike down to the cathedral for morn-
ing Mass, Father? You realize how far some of them have to
"Hike up, Glenn," Lynch said, and Kittler knew that he
had suggested a new train of thought to the priest's agile
mind. "You know, I think you got something. So well fix it
so they won't have to. Here, take this down: Visit your local
Catholic chaplain. Offer him your aid to make the Mission a
success. Find out the best time for you to receive Holy Com-
munionin the morning, if you fast from midnight; in the
afternoon, if you fast four hours from solid food and one
hour from nonalcoholic liquid"
The priest's eyes were bright as he studied his assistant.
When Kittler looked up, he grinned again. "That do it?"
"What do you want me to do with it?" Kittler asked him.
"Get it printed. Have it plastered on every available spot
on every post. Give a thing enough publicity, and the mob
will flock around."
"Even with all the publicity we've already given it, the
cathedral's still a pretty big place, Father," he said, voicing
the thought which had been in his mind for some days.
Lynch laughed. "Five will get you ten that when I say the
opening prayer of the Mission, St. Joseph's Cathedral will be
packed to the doors." He searched his pocket, placing a dime
triumphantly on the desk.
Kittler put a nickel beside it. "You got a bet, Father. And I
hope you win," he added, his tone doubtful.
Neither of them could know then that Father Lynch
would not be there when the opening prayer of the Mission
Glenn Kittler left the office immediately after mess on the
night of April seventeenth to make final preparations at the
cathedral and to be there in case any of the men arrived
early. He did not know, therefore, of the call that came for
Father Lynch a few minutes later.
He was busy distributing missals, booklets of prayers, and
programs of the Mission and was not aware that the priest
had not arrived. He was surprised at the turnout of men and
too busy to notice the absence of his superior.
It was a steamy hot evening, and men sat close together
inside the cathedral, sweating. It was not fair to keep them
waiting. Kittler, suddenly aware of the time, asked Father
Francis J. Bottler, an army chaplain, to open the Mission.
Father Edwin Paulmann, of the Navy, was programmed to
preach that night, so apart from the opening, it really didn't
matter that Lynch was absent.
Except to Kittler. The irony of it did not occur to him.
Nothing mattered but his anger at the priest for "pulling a
disappearance" at such a time, It was his show; lie should
have been there. There was no excuse for his absence*
Hours later, lying on his cot, his head aching with ex-
haustion, he tried to rationalize it, to analyze Lynch the
man. He wondered why he stuck around when he wanted
so much to be transferred; he asked himself all the million
questions which plagued him and which he never could get
around to asking Lynch.
Sleep began to enfold him, relaxing his tired muscles, re-
leasing him from the tensions of conflicting emotions. He
was not aware that his door had opened; the sudden switch-
ing on of the light made him blink. "What the hell/* he mut-
teredand recognized his visitor.
He raised himself on his elbow, but made no move to get
up. "What happened to you?" he demanded, wholly uncon-
scious of his tone*
"I've been A.W.O.L.," Lynch said, trying to grin.
Now that the light no longer made him blink, Kittler
thought the priest looked tired, drawn; there were lines
around his eyes Kittler had never noticed before. "How'd it
go, Glenn?" Lynch spoke with deep concern, though he tried
to make it sound flip. "Come on, Champ. Give. Let's hear it
The impulse to jeer was almost irresistible. Kittler wanted
to taunt the priest, keep him in suspense, jeer at him because
despite his absence the Mission got along. Instead, he sat
up and gave a succinct report of the evening's work.
Father Lynch sat on the shack's one camp chair, slumped
down, legs stretched out before him, the tired lines around
his eyes deeper. At last he spoke:
"Just like an actor missing his cue on opening night," he
said wryly. Kittler said nothing, waiting. Lynch never ex-
plained, never told him where he had been when he dis-
appeared on one of his mysterious errands. Would this be an
"A troopship was shoving off for combat duty," Lynch
said, studying the tips of his shoes. "The men sent word to
Klein asking him to get me. I went out there to hear confes-
sions and to say Mass. You should have seen me! Right smack
in the middle of Mass, I felt the rumble of engines under me
and then the ship quivered. It was the most extraordinary
sensation I've ever had in my life!"
He looked up at Kittler and shook his head. "Of course,
with every Catholic man on board receiving Communion, it
wasn't until over an hour later that I got up on deck. And
there was Noumea slipping away in the background! Talk
about being A.W.O.L.!"
"Whafd you do?" Kittler betrayed his own intense in-
Lynch shrugged. "What could I do? It was another hour
before we passed the lighthouse where the pilot was to leave
the ship. I had to climb down one of those snaky three-inch
things the Navy calls ladders into a swaying, bumping tea-
cup of a pilot boat. And what a sea! Queer how smooth it
looks from high up. Believe me, it was rugged. Three hours
in a teacup in that sea ... brother, I'll take vanilla." He
shook his head and grinned.
"Know what it made me think of? When I was ten, I got
smart; bit of a show-off I was. Made myself a pair of skis out
of the staves of a barrel, and tried 'em out on one of the hills
near home. Before I started, it was swell: everybody telling
me how fearless I was. I made it with a couple of broken
bones, but man alive, was I scared! Wonder what makes a
man want to be a pilot?"
He sighed deeply again, stood up slowly, looking down at
"Thanks, Glenn." And he was gone.
Curiously, Kittler wasn't sleepy any more and he wasn't
tired. He finished his cigarette, stared at the closed door,
pulled out the light, and was instantly asleep.
There could be no question of the success of the Mission.
Every service was packed, and every priest who participated
gave tribute to the fine organization and preparation which
went into it. They worked hard: Lynch's ambitious plan to
have four priests hear confessions every night had to be
changed to every available priest every night, with even
Father Noblet taking a turn. The money which found its
way into the box placed near the door was more than the
cathedral had gotten in the last three years.
Lynch had arranged to tave the final Mass and Candle-
light Benediction at the same time, and it was the crowning
glory of the Mission. Men crammed into every corner of the
cathedral, overflowing down the steps, onto the lawn and
even down to the brink of the hill. As far as the eye could
see, the night was lighted by flickering candles.
Two bishops were there to preside: Bishop Brisson of New
Caledonia and Bishop Wade of Noumea. No man missed a
word of what was said because Lynch had ordered Kittler
to have the Signal Corps set up a public address system.
When it was over, Glenn Kittler felt limp with exhaus-
tion, but his job was far from complete. The cathedral had
to be thoroughly cleaned and nothing was more repugnant
to him. Pamphlets, missals, hymn cards had to be gathered,
bundled, and returned to the office, and he suspected if he
delayed too long, the jeep would not be waiting back of the
sacristy where Lynch usually parked it. At best, he would
have objected to the long hike back to camp, but in the
pelting rain which began as the service ended, it was out of
Arms loaded, Kittler arrived at the parking place in time
to see the taillight vanish around the twisting turn at the
hilltop. Hurrying back through the cathedral, he hoped
against hope to catch a ride back, but the slope was empty.
Kittler dropped his bundle, expressing in a low tone, but
in eloquent language, his opinion of Lynch and the whole
business. As his slow-burning anger reached its peak, he
jammed his helmet down, hitched up the cuffs of his trousers,
and picked up the bundle. He stumbled down the hill, and
this time he knew he was through. Nothing Lynch could say
now would make any difference.
A jeep coughed as it swung around the sharp curve and
came to a stop beside him. Father Barge of the 6th Naval
Construction Battalion leaned over. "Hop in, Glenn/'
Kittler threw his bundle under the seat and climbed in,
muttering, "Thanks, Father."
"Don't thank me/' Father Barge said. "Brooklyn sent me
back for you/' They drove in silence for some minutes, and
as if the priest sensed Kittler's antagonism, he said gently:
"You know, Glenn, it was the Apostles who did the dirty
work for Jesus Christ. I mean stuff like rustling the food,
sleeping quarters; all the chores of living. He was always too
busy teaching and preaching to remember things like that"
"Lynch isn't Jesus Christ," Kittler snapped.
"Right," Barge said, then chuckled. "He's quite a guy. He
drove you like a slave, but he drove us all! And youVe got to
admit he drove himself harder than anybody. When a man's
got a fire burning inside him, there's not much anybody can
do about it."
"That's not to say he's got to burn up the rest of the
world," Kittler came back.
"You just don't understand Larry. He's so fiendishly hungry
for souls! If he thinks he can work his way inside a man,
win him back to God, so far as Larry is concerned, almost
"Don't try explaining him to me, Father. I work with him"
Bitterness put a rasp into Kittler's voice. "There's a lot of
good chaplains in this man's Army; they don't charge about
like a tornado. They're not God! I hate that man!" he flung
out, then added apologetically: "I'm sorry, Father."
"Don't be," Father Barge said. "You U feel better for get-
ting it out of your system. But remember that's the kind of
man Lynch is. You either hate him or you love him."
"Maybe. There's a lot of guys think he's God's little
brother, but so far as I'm concerned . . ."
"Even when you're hating him most," Barge interrupted
as if Kittler had not spoken, "you can't help loving the guy.
You mark my words, one of these days you'll come to know
him and when you do, I'll bet youll almost idolize him. And
remember I told you."
Kittler's laugh was harsh. "Yeah! I wouldn't wait, Father/'
"Right," Father Barge nodded. "But remember wKat I
said. Meantime, you couldn't fix it to get transferred to the
Navy, could you?"
This time, the laugh was genuine. "Thanks, Father. I ap-
Tm not kidding," Barge echoed the laugh. "You tell
Brooklyn if he doesn't behave, 111 fix it to get you trans-
ferred as my assistant regardless of your army unif orml"
Kittler went to the office, deposited his collection of left-
over material, and was about to head for his own shack
when a note in Lynch's handwriting caught his eye. It was
pinned to a letter the priest had scrawled, and it said: "Have
the attached mimeoed for distribution to the boys."
He read the letter:
In the South Pacific
Mothers Day, 1944
This should reach you in time for Mother's Day. The
rest of this book shows you what I've been doing lately.
This picture shows you where you can find me on Mother's
Day. Again, as I do every day, I'm going to thank God for
that swell Mother He gave me. May He help me always to
remain as good as you think me to be and 111 ask the won-
derful Mother of God to keep an eye on you and empty
heaven of its best blessings for you because only the best
for the best and my best is you.
With love, always yours,
Kittler flung it back to the desk in disgust More grand-
standing. It was too much.
His wet clothes were sticking to him; he had gotten soaked
again when he collected the bundles from under the seat
of the jeep. He was hungry but too tired to go to the cook-
shack for food. Back in his own quarters, he had removed
one soggy boot before he realized that he had no cigarettes.
He scoured the room, hunting for a butt. Unsuccessful, he
weighed the relative values of a trip to the cookshack to
scrounge food and smokes as against bed and decided am
He sat on his chair, took off the second boot and fired it at
the door. As it landed, he spied a half-burned cigarette
stump, leaned down to get it and was bumped on the head
by the door which opened at that moment. A kick failed to
shut it. Wearily he got upand looked directly into the
amused eyes of Father Lawrence Lynch.
"Hi-ya, Champ. Mind if I come in a minute?" The priest
moved to Kittler's cot and threw himself full length on it.
Kittler's look reflected his thoughts, but he said: "No, sir.
So long as you don't mind if I go on stripping." He turned
his back and peeled his shirt.
"You're pretty fed up with me, aren't you?" Kittler ignored
the question, determined not to become involved in a row
with Lynch this night.
While Kittier continued to remove his wet clothing, the
priest lay prone, hands under his head, staring at the ceil-
ing, At last he chuckled softly. "Getting set to quit me
Kittler had an almost irresistible impulse to hit the chap-
lain, and had Lynch been standing, he might have done so.
Instead, he glared down at this man who had tormented him
for months, hating Lynch as he would not have believed it
possible for him to hate any man. It had ceased to be a
matter of transfer now. He wanted to hurt Lynch, use phys-
ical force, land a solid one on that insouciant grin.
As if he could read Kittler's mind, Lynch got up, moved
swiftly and stood before him, his square ruggedness some-
how discounting the difference in their height. His hands
were on Kittler's shoulders, gripping them hard, but his voice
was almost a whisper.
"YouVe had a rough week, Champ. I want you to know
how much I appreciate all you've done. But I know you
didn't do it for me. You did it for God. Always do everything
for God, Glenn. You can't go wrong that way. Always keep
Him right there, beside you. Let's work together, you and I,
for God. And be patient with me." He stopped, waited, felt
the tension in Kittler's shoulder begin to ease, and smiled
gently. "Maybe someday you'll understand the kind of dope
I am. But meantime, we're pals, aren't we?"
Glenn Kittler was determined not to be won over. He
would not permit himself to be taken in by this new act. He
refused to let Lynch get under his skin with a few soft
words; yet, unwillingly, he felt the tautness leave his body,
felt himself relaxing. He breathed deeply.
Lynch nodded, dropped his hands. "God bless you, Glenn,
and may His Blessed Mother watch over you always and
keep you happy/*
He went as silently as he had come, leaving Kittler
strangely released, yet somehow bewildered. It was some
minutes before he saw the can of beer, the paper-wrapped
sandwich, and underneath the sandwich, a package of ciga-
He shook his head, punctured the can on a nail and began
munching, wishing he could understand the man who had
brought them, wishing he could reconcile his distrust of
Lynch and Lynches motives with the man's extraordinary
changes of character.
The next morning, he scanned the dummy of a booklet
the priest had asked him to look over.
"There's enough stuff here for a thirty-page book, Father.
If you expect the guys to send this home as a souvenir, aren't
you forgetting the cost plus postage?"
"I figured it'd run to thirty-two," Lynch nodded. "On the
front outside cover, a picture of the outside of the Cathedral
this one. On the back, what about this with all the fellows
kneeling inside. It's a grand picture."
"But the cost," Kittler began, then thought of something
else. "Besides you can't mimeo pictures/'
"I wasn't planning to. I thought of using microfilm.*
"What a hope! You've gotta have top priority . . ."
The priest nodded, grinned. "Uh4iuh. But I got an angle.
We'll use some copies of the letters to the men . . ."
"Where's that going?" Kittler asked, pointing to the Moth-
er's Day message.
"Right smack in the center. And opposite it, this picture
taken during Mass. That will give both a real meaning, sort
of a personal letter each guy can sign and send home to
his . , ." He stopped, eyes narrowed, as he watched Kit-
tier's face. The picture showed Lynch as celebrant, standing
before the altar in that most solemn moment in the Mass
when he had raised the Chalice for the adoration of the
faithful, with Kittler and the other two men who had as-
sisted at that Mass kneeling behind him.
"Bet a nickel 1 know what you're thinking," Lynch
grinned, and Kittler had the grace to blush.
"I don't know what you mean, Father," he said.
"Why won't you ever be honest with me? You're saying
to yourself, "Here it is; more self-glorification/ Right?" He
waited and Kittler nodded dumbly* "Good. Now we're being
honest. But aren't you forgetting one thing? I'm sending
one of those booklets to my Mom, too." He cocked his head.
"Maybe when you meet her you'll understand. I think you'll
love her, too. You'll love the white kitchen with its window
overlooking the bit of a yard where she insisted on growing
flowers. 2 '
A glow of reminiscence came into his eyes. "Once she
said something about them, and I wrote a poem about it
and sent it to a magazine. I was a seminarian then, and
thought I was pretty good! I wrote:
My tulips and hyacinths are all in full bloom
They are beautiful this year a riot of color
They stand in all their beauty like so many chalices,
Offering to our Blessed Mother their perfume of love.
I call them my children because they grow
Where you all used to play a few years ago.
He sighed deeply. "She was happier about that ten-dollar
check than if I'd sent her a million dollars."
For some moments Lynch, sat still, his eyes dreamy, look-
ing back into the past. "Shell appreciate that booklet, Glenn.
Shell know why it was prepared, and why that picture went
into it. And youll understand too/* He looked directly at his
assistant. "Will you promise me something, Glenn? Will you
go and see her when you get back?" His smile was oddly
young and somehow sad. "You can tell her you didn't quite
approve of her Lala, and shell probably laugh because shell
understand. Shell understand about that letter too."
Kittler had heard Lynch extract the same promise from
hundreds of menheard it and had always been suspicious
of it yet when he was himself asked to promise, he could
only nod. This new Lynch was someone he was unsure of,
someone he was afraid of, if the truth were told. He felt
As if he regretted having exposed himself to Kittler,
Lynch spoke sharply now. "It doesn't seem to occur to you
that a chaplain's family has as much right as any other sol-
dier's to know whafs been happening to him and what he's
doing. Now, the main job will be narrowing it down-4his
lesson on prayer by Father Bottler is a must. And Father
The shift was fast, even for Lynch, but Kittler was grate-
ful for it. 'What about this one by Father Schenkel?" he
"Yes. Oh, and I want Father Barnett's 'Design for Liv-
ing.' And the daily program besides some letters, and plenty
of pictures. That . . "
He stopped as the telephone rang. Kittler answered it
with his stock phase, "Chaplain's Office, Kittler speaking,"
listened, and handed the instrument to Lynch. "Moscowitz.
He sounds scared/*
Father Lynch wasted no time in preliminaries. "What
Kittler could hear the rasp of the lieutenant* s voice
through the instrument. "Sorry to trouble you, Father, but
this is an S. O. S."
*TH be right over," Lynch said, replacing the instrument
at once and pushing back his chair. "If you want me,
Champ, at least this time you'll know where to find me, for
a little while!"
Kittler felt his face get hot again. Lynch had an uncanny
way of reading his mind. He wondered what had happened
to upset the usually calm Moscowitz.
Lt. Alvin Moscowitz was frankly worried. His hair, usu-
ally neat, was ruffled by restless fingers; his eyes had heavy
circles under them, and his face was drawn and tense.
Last night's freak accident, resulting in Fred Hunt's death,
had nothing to do with the case against Sam Laney, but Mos-
cowitz suspected it would somehow militate against his
client. Fred's death had upset him horribly; he had known
and liked the boy, and somehow Fred and Sam had become
so much one, he couldn't think straight about either.
He studied the pictures and maps which told so plainly
the part of the story Morton hadn't been able to tell. Fred
and Morton had been traveling the Bouleupari Road, en
route to Finger Pier No. 2, each driving a truck loaded with
ammunition. Bouleupari "The Nightmare" road. Its narrow,
twisting, mountain slopes were lined with treacherous turns
and flanked by steep cliffs which, in places, dropped off into
nothingness; its steep banks and rocky terrain were laced
with bumps and holes. It was dangerous in good weather,
suicidal on a night heavy with fog, rain and storm as last
night had been.
Morton, in the lead truck with a defective windshield
wiper, switched positions with Fred's truck in order to use
the latter's taillights as a guide, he said. He was to blink
his headlights if he had any difficulty following. When he
did, Fred stopped and leaned out of the open door of his
truck to see what was wrong. Fred had forgotten that he
was on the crest of a hill, and he was off balance when his
truck started down. He tried to reach the brake, but the truck
hit a bump and swerved, throwing him down into the ravine.
What a lousy, filthy way to fight a war! When you got
into the service, it was to fight Japs; the only Japs he'd ever
seen were the PW's on Paita. Klein would throw the book
at Sam Laney just because there had been a series of acci-
dents. As if Sam had anything to do with Fred Hunt's death!
There was no parallel between the two accidents.
He had to put Fred out of his mind. He knew he must
concentrate on Sam and Sam's defense, but frustration cut
deep within him, and right now, he hated everything about
the Army, his job, this war, and particularly New Caledonia.
He looked up when the door opened.
Father Lynch stood watching him. The chaplain's ap-
pearance had an extraordinary effect on Moscowitz, who
rose automatically, unaware of the stiffness in his move-
ment and the tenseness in his whole bearing.
"Thanks for coming, Father," Moscowitz said. "I ... Tm
sorry I had to bother you, but this business about Sam Laney
. . . For the love of God, Father, why in hell should a kid
like Fred get it like that? Dammit . . ." he stopped, embar-
rassed. "Excuse me/*
"That's all right, Tex/' Lynch said. "Relax, son. And be-
fore we start scolding God, and arguing with Him about
what He thinks is best for us let's get on with Sam Laney.
He's the fellow you're defending in the court-martial?
What's the charge?"
"Intoxication. Last week he cracked up a truck while driv-
ing under the influence of liquor/' He inhaled deeply.
Lynch raised his eyebrows.
"Last night's was the third crack-up in two weeks, Father.
Morton wasn't drunk. He was not to blame for the acci-
dent. It wasn't his fault his windshield wiper went on the
fritz. But Morton had had a couple of beers and Fred Hunt
was killed. Klein is sore as hell. He's got to make an exam-
pleand I'm afraid Sam Laney may be it.*
Lynch stood there, digesting it At last he nodded. "Okay,
So let's go see Klein before he makes it official."
"The damn shame," Moscowitz said, "is Sam's a lot like
Fred a right guy. He's never been in trouble before. He ...
Fred would do something about it if he could. He wouldn't
want his death to ... Sam was slated for OCS, but with this
on his record
Lynch gripped the younger man's shoulder briefly. "I be-
gin to understand why you've got to get Sam off. And I
think Fred will understand too. Come on. If we tackle Klein
together, we can't lose. Let's roll."
Lt Col. Julius Klein glared from the lieutenant to the
chaplain and shook his head emphatically. "The answer is
still no" he said, crisp and hard. Til have no more drink-
ing in this outfit"
"You think breaking a decent kid will stop intoxication?"
Lynch demanded. "Every man's entitled to one mistake,
and you know this is the first"
"He should have thought of that before he got drunk/*
Klein snapped. "They all worry about their record when
it's too late. I'm going to show this outfit I mean business,
and that's all there is to it."
"But, sir," Moscowitz finally got in, "Laney is good officer
material. You said so yourself, and if you sentence him, this
will kill his chances."
"He should have thought of that too," Klein said.
"Look here, Colonel Julius," Lynch leaned over the desk,
his eyes intent on the man behind it. "You want to sentence
Laney. All right. You do it."
Moscowitz looked worried; Klein was surprised into an
Lynch nodded slowly. "That's right. You sentence Laney
... to DCS!"
Klein's mouth fell open. "You think I'm a fool, Father? A
man is guilty of intoxication, cracks up a truck, and you
suggest I forget the charges and promote him?"
"It's because I know you're no fool that I make the sug-
gestion. You're too smart a soldier to waste good material
just to prove a point. You know Laney is good; a good sol-
dier with the makings of a good officer. And look at the
credit you'll get for having picked him!" With one of his
lightning changes, he laughed. Both men stared at him in
surprise. "What a melodrama! Something for the books, Colo-
nel Julius. A Catholic priest and a Jewish lawyer battling a
Jewish C.O. to make a Protestant soldier an officer! You gotta
admit that leaves no room for argument."
Unwillingly, Klein nodded. "I guess I know when I'm
licked," he said. "Take your Protestant and send him to OCS.
But I promise you that if I ever hear he's so much as had
a beer so's anybody could notice it on himTil see he gets
everything the law allows."
"You got a deal," Lynch said, with a sly wink at Mosco-
witz. "What's more, 111 lay you odds ten to five Laney be-
comes one of the best officers in the whole H.Q. Service
"Nickel and dime, of course," Lynch grinned, putting his
"You got a bet!" Klein said, adding his nickel to it.
A year later, when Lt. Samuel Laney was invalided home
with a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross
with Cluster, Lt. Col. Klein wished he could pay Father
Lynch that small bet.
Glenn Kittler felt that he was beginning to know Father
Lawrence Lynch better than his own mother knew him; yet
not a day passed but Lynch could surprise him out of this
certainty, and frequently infuriate him by throwing his pre-
conceived notions into chaos.
He watched the priest closely in his dealings with the
men who were lucky enough to catch up with him in the
office, hoping to find a weakness he could use to advantage.
Against his will, he was forced to admit that his superior
was a brilliant man, and even when Kittler was irritated
almost beyond endurance, he felt a grudging admiration for
the majesty of the man's mind.
Lynch never seemed to sleep. Often, late at night when
Kittler returned from visits to town, he could see the chap-
lain in his own shack the curtain pulled back for every
breath of air poring over a thick volume and writing furi-
ously on the note pad beside him. He came to know that
Lynch was intimately familiar with the sciences, music, art,
literature and politics; he had studied pharmacology as a
hobby; he could discuss any subject expertly, and he was
never without an opinion. What was even more irritating
was the fact that he had never, so far as Kittler knew, been
But to the average soldier, sailor, marine, he was still
Brooklyn, the rambunctious, sensational, unpredictable, al-
ways good for a laugh, always a "right guy" to his assistant,
he was always a grandstander.
No wonder then that when Lynch began planning for a
giant Memorial Day service which was to be participated in
by all faiths, all ranks, all chaplains in the Island Command,
Kittler had his own Ideas as to the reason for it. When Lynch
ordered him to get permission to have it plugged over the
Island Command's "mosquito network/' he was sure that he
was right And when he designated the amphitheater, which
he had used for that first Christmas Eve Mass, as the site for
the service, Kittler's mouth became grim; he went about the
job of making preparations with passive resistance, expend-
ing no effort that was not absolutely necessary.
If Father Lynch noticed it, he gave no sign. On Memorial
Day, Kittler found a list of instructions neatly tabulated on
his desk: the raised platform was to be draped with bunt-
ingno suggestion of where it was to come from; chairs and
a small table; a flag draped at half-staff; seating arrange-
ments for speakers and chaplains. Lynch was going to "put
on a show/' but it was Glenn Kittler who had to set the
Afterwards, Kittler had to admit it was impressive. Every
chaplain in the Command was there: Catholic, Protestant,
Jew. Army, Navy, Coast Guard every branch of the armed
services was represented. And long before the combined
band opened the ceremony with the national anthem, every
inch of space within the amphitheater was packed, with
men squatting along the dirt "aisles/* on stones, on the
ground beyond the arena, grateful for the amplifiers which
helped them hear what they could not see*
Just before the gun salute and taps, Father Lynch as if
by unanimous consentsaid the closing prayer, one he had
Lord Jesus Christ, Soldier, Defender, Savior, Victor God
Who fought this warfare we call life, and died once to con-
quer death, and made the endless, undying Victory of Your
Resurrection a guarantee of our own eternal life, today we
pray to You for our dear heroic dead to lead them unto life
without end with You.
Christ Who walked upon the wild green waters, reach
Your hand of mercy down to rescue those who went down
to the sea in ships and walked the ocean's floor in sub-
Sailor Jesus Whom Peter waked from sleep upon the deep
to calm a fearful deathly tempest, wake all our brothers
who drank death below the angry brine.
Lord God of Hosts of Heaven and the armies of earth,
call home from the silent mounds of little tombs the men
who sleep beneath a foreign soil; the men who tilled the
laughing green fields of America.
Nail-pierced hands, shake those strong hands that held the
gleaming blades of plows nosed into the many silver-rainy
springs to overturn our native land for planting whistling
wheat and golden corn.
Nail-daggered feet of Jesus, lead the shoeless, frozen,
broken, wounded feet of men who walked behind the mule
and stepped upon the tractor's treadle down countless scarlet-
ribboned rows of springtime cotton fields.
Back of God bowed under the burden of Your Cross, brace
the cracked backs of mortar teams and pack men, the backs
used to bear crates and sacks and bales of food and fuel of
Wounded Savior, be Samaritan and sooth the sore and
painful gashes gushing bright young blood like mouths that
cry for sympathy.
Scourged Jesus, make whole and well the bodies of our
buddies whipped and scourged by swiftly searing shrapnel.
Thorn-crowned Captain, disentangle doughboys ensnared
in webs o pain on barbed-wire fences.
Christ of the Garden of Gethsemane, O lonely, blood-
sweating, agonizing Son of God, beneath the heartless trees
and sniped at with a stinging kiss from a betrayer., lend aid
and sympathy to our marines and scouts and reconnoiterers
squirming in steaming, stinking, serpented death in some lost
Dying Saviour, at Whose death the very earth quaked and
the thunder exploded to wake dead men from age-old tombs
while live men cried for very Me, save from mangled shrap-
nel-splattered tank or truck or shattered engine room the
scattered bleaching bones and bid them vest in flesh to have
the body live again refreshed after death's little sleep and
have that body go to meet and greet the soul and come with
You to Your triumphant Resurrection.
Dead Jesus, from the foxhole of Your sepulchre, walk the
battlefields, and roll away the walls of earth upon new
tombs, and call from nameless, crossless and forgotten graves,
machine gunners and miners and artillerymen.
Jesus, Judge of the living and the dead, Who will come
again upon the glorious clouds of Heaven, bring back
to the hangars of Heaven all Your human angels who, in
planes, plummeted through time and space and crashed into
Last but not least, welcome home Your other Christs, Your
chaplains whose only weapon was the brave cross on their
collars, who were sped into eternity to meet The Christ as
they stooped to give You to wounded men at death,
Jesus, Man and God, You are our resurrection and our
way and our life. Hear our prayers for the dead and give
them all eternal rest, and someday, soon or late, we most
surely will follow them; so for ourselves we beg the strength
and grace of preparation for a happy death after these few
years of life and liberty they saved for us, all united at home,
in the land of our eternal freedom with You and the Father
and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.
Kittler, standing on the rim of the arena, watching men
moving silently away, was amazed at their thinking faces,
the quiet decorum of their exit. He would have denied ve-
hemently that Lynch's prayer had moved him, yet he knew
that so long as he lived he would never forget the firm, ring-
ing voice with all the overtones and undertones of a great
actor, that made every sentence come alive.
And like the great actor he was, Lynch avoided the anti-
climax. He disappeared with the last note of taps, once
more leaving Kittler to get back to the office as best he
It didn't help that Frank Fogarty stuck around at Lynch's
request, he later learned to give him a hand or that the sup-
ply truck from the 42nd mess, with McCarthy at the wheel,
was there to take him back to the office.
Some of the "brass" wanted Lynch, to tell him what they
thought of the service, but Lynch wasn't around. Worse,
Kittler had no idea where he had gone or when he would
return, and knowing Lynch's closemouthed method of opera-
tion, Battler guessed that it would be some time before he
saw his superior.
As a matter of fact, it was not until next morning that he
did see him, and that was at Mass where he had no chance
to talk to him. He was resigned to a certain extent; he ac-
cepted Lynda's vagaries knowing he could do nothing about
them. But while his sense of frustration was not diminished
by his acceptance, there was one thing he was determined
not to do. He had heard Lynch say many times that "an
angry man or one who laughs is vulnerable because his
defenses are down"; Glenn Kittler was determined Lynch
would never catch him angry again. No matter what the
chaplain did, no matter what harebrained scheme he came
up with next, he Kittler would take it in his stride.
All the same, when he returned from mess to find sheets
of foolscap with Lynch's scrawl on them and a note tagged
to them reading: "Make four copies, please. We're on the
airl" he was furiously angry.
He read it through. It started with a brief commentary
explaining that this was to be the Catholic Hour on the
Noumea mosquito network, and as a starter, the rosary
seemed a good subject to talk about.
"The rosary is the most human and divine of prayers. It
is human because anyone can say it. We clasp the crucifix
which has been blessed. We kiss it as a token of reverence
for a grand service done us by our Big Brother Who is God.
We say the Our Father on each large bead, then let our
thumb and forefinger count off each smaller bead as we
recite each Hail Mary.
"After ten of these, we bow our head and salute the
Trinity: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the
Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever
shall be, world without end. Amen.
"We meditate on the sorrowful events in the life of Christ,
the solid, serious business of God being scourged and
crowned with thorns, losing His friends and being betrayed
and turned over to death and buried in a stranger's grave.
"We sympathize with Mary, holding the dead body of her
Jesus on her lap and begging our Mother of Sorrows to
soothe the empty hearts of other mothers and hands robbed
of the little consolation of holding their shattered sons in
their arms even if only to wash them for the burial.
"The rosary is the Bible in the mind; it is the Bible by
heart as well as . . /'
He stopped, looked up to find Father Lynch watching
him, a quizzical expression in his eyes,
"They want it by three o'clock," Lynch said. "It's got to
be censored." A strange elation crept into his tone. "Well
wow them! We'll make it the best radio show on the
island . . , " He stopped, his tone changed. "All right,
Champ. Let's have it. What's the gripe this time?"
Kittler shook his head; he wouldnt let Lynch bait him.
"An angry man is vulnerable!' He would not permit himself
to be angry. But he heard his own voice: "A lot of the guys
think you're a publicity hound already. So now you're prov-
"Sure I am, Champ. Any priest worth his salt knows the
value of publicity. He must be kept in the public eye. He's
got to make people realize he's human too. This . . . why,
this chance is too good to pass up. We'll be the sensation
of the South Pacific. We'll put Tokyo Rose out of business
you wait and see. The whole island will sit up and take no-
tice, and what's more, we'll publish each broadcast in the
news. If I've got to be a publicity hound to reach just one
guy who wouldn't otherwise come to me . . ."
Kittler broke in with unexpected violence, "They know
where to come when they're in a jam!''
"Is that bad?" Lynch asked.
"No, but you don't need cheap publicity to . . ." Kittler
stopped, aware suddenly that he was doing the very thing
he had sworn he would not do.
"The men must be made to understand that their chaplain
is not much different from them," Lynch said patiently.
"That he's a regular fellow who plays baseball and poker
and pinochle. They must be made to feel their chapel is
their hangout because their chaplain is human."
"But this . . . this stunt is no way to do it!"
"This is no stunt, Glenn." The priest's voice was hard
now. "We've got a job to do, a big job. It's results count
out here; not method."
"And what about the ones you alienate? Don't they
Father Lynch looked at his assistant for a long minute.
Then, unexpectedly, he smiled a warm, deep smile which
lighted his face. His head lifted, his shoulders squared.
"Our Lady will take care of them, Glenn. You see, she
knows what I'm trying to do. Shell never let me down she
never has." He was speaking of someone very close, very
dear, someone on whom he leaned heavily. And almost im-
mediately, with another of his swift changes, his tone be-
came sharp: "Please make four copies at once/' He swung
on Ms heel and was gone.
Kittler began typing. Back in the recesses of his mind a
new idea about this man who tormented him began to take
shape, to grow. When it became a certainty, it was too late.
Throughout the long summer of 1944, Father Larry Lynch
remained officially "unattached/' one of the chaplains of the
Headquarters Service Command, yet somehow probably
because the 42nd was closer to the chapel than most other
units it was generally accepted that he was chaplain for
the 42nd QM Battalion Mobile.
The priest was a dynamo, knowing no exhaustion and
needing no rest. With the help of seabees, and of course,
Kittler, he rebuilt the whole chapel and, as he had prom-
ised, himself painted a full set of stations of the cross for
it. He built and discarded two altars before he was satis-
fied with the third, permanent one in the chapel. Getting
paint for the building was a problem, particularly since
weather played havoc with it; yet Lynch got it, painted
and repainted the building, and always with Kittler doing
what he considered to be the lion's share of the work.
Frequently, Lynch would start the job, leaving his assis-
tant to finish it, over what seemed insurmountable obstacles.
Supplies were difficult to secure due to shortages and pri-
orities; helpers were rarely available at crucial moments.
Yet, Lynch always got what he needed; and helpers jumped
if he so much as whispered the need for them.
And through it all, the Catholic Hour, a regular Sunday
morning feature over the "mosquito network," was a source
of worry and extra labor for Battler. No matter what else
there was to do, the broadcast had to be prepared; Lynch
insisted on careful files of everything he said and did, and
each week, a reprint of the broadcast appeared in the island's
Once, the original script of a broadcast disappeared one
even Kittler conceded was among the best. It was "The Sol-
dier Who Knifed God" and Lynch, the dramatist, used vivid,
searing words to tell the story of St. Lionel, the Roman
centurion who had stabbed the dying Christ and who fell
to his knees afterwards with the historic words: "Truly this
Man is the Son of God."
Kittler offered to get a copy of it from Station AES, but
Lynch demanded the original; he had corrected it in pencil,
had made last-minute changes on it, had his timing on it,
and he wanted it for his files. Kittler found it later in one
of the books on Lynch's desk.
The files were another source of worry to Kittler. Lynch
insisted that copies of every letter to and from servicemen
had to be carefully filed as well as all general notices, bul-
letins, speeches, and copies of the daily news bulletin car-
rying a schedule of all religious services.
One day he asked Lynch: "What are you planning to do
with aU this stuff, Father?" He was referring to an overflow
of early material which had become a clutter in one corner.
"You sure can't be figuring on shipping that back to the
"I'm figuring on just that/* Lynch said.
"But there's tons of the stuff. You'll need a whole cargo
vessel and most of it is just . . . just . . ." He choked back
"Junk?" Lynch said it for him. "That junk, Champ, is im-
portant, at least to me."
"Because you wrote it?"
Lynch stared at his assistant a moment. "You'll never be-
lieve my motives to be anything but self-glory, will you?"
"It's none of my business," Kittler said, swallowing hard,
a subtle elation behind it because he felt he had cracked
the chaplain's defenses.
"That is quite true," Lynch said. "But it doesn't explain
anything, does it?"
"Perhaps if you did explain occasionally . . /'
"All right, Glenn. You've heard me talk about The Fam-
ilyand mind you I use caps, see. One day you'll meet them:
Matt and Phil and Lillie she was in the Waves but she's
married to a commander in the submarine service now
he's somewhere out here in the Pacific, and nobody, includ-
ing Lillie, has any idea when or if they'll hear from him,
"Ann was a policewoman before she married an army
major, who is somewhere in North Africa where he's been
for more than a year already. Tom's on a navy carrier, also
out here in the Pacific, but all The Family knows of him
is ... a San Francisco post office address. And Kitty . . .
little, dainty Kitty is a nun austere Sister Mary Joseph
who can't hide the impish twinkle in her eyes or her sense
of humor, thank God.
"Mary . . . Mary is taller than I am and though I'm the
eldest, it was always Mary who had to fight my battles . . .
I guess I was pretty soft at that. But Mary is somebody spe-
cial. I send everything to Mary; she knows when is the
right time to trot it out for Mom like the Mother's Day
message I sent last year. I had it recorded."
He was a different person now, a dreamy-eyed youngster,
letting the man who did not understand him catch a glimpse
of something he kept carefully guarded at all times.
"I had one of the boys in the Signal Corps do it It wasn't
much of a thing, but it meant a lot because Mary played
it for Mom on Mother's Day ... I remember . . ." He
stopped, lost in thought for a moment, and when he spoke
again, his voice was vibrant, intimate, as he reread in his
mind's eye the message he had sent home:
Hello, Mom. Today is Mother's Day in 1943. First of all,
Mom, thank you for being my mother. . . . You're a won-
derful mother all right. No one could have a better mother
Maybe being this far away is a blessing. It makes us see
how much we love you. No matter how busy and interest-
ing our day or work may be, no matter how tired or sleepy
our nights, you know that you are in my mind and in my
heart all the twenty-four hours of every day*
Mom, I love you. And because of you, I pride myself on
being the best officer in the best army on earth. You gave
me my life and I am here to learn as fast and as well as pos-
sible the best way to defend and protect your life and my
own. I am here because I believe in you.
This little time away doesn't keep us away from each
other, and I didn't leave you when I left home. You are
always in my heart. . . .
Don't worry about me. God bless you, Mom, for that won-
derful mother He gave me. God give you all the wonderful
things I want for you which only God can give you.
When he stopped, he was lost in thought, and Klttler sat
still, eyes stinging and a tightness in his throat. He wanted
to say something, do something, but he didn't know what.
Father Lynch stared out the window for nearly a full
minute. When he looked at his assistant, a dark stain was
on his cheeks, his voice was low and quiet. "Sorry, Glenn.
I didn't mean to go soft on you."
"I'm sorry, Father/' Glenn Kittler heard himself saying.
"I didn't mean ... I ... what I meant was ... oh, hell!"
"Exactly," the priest said and grinned.
Kittler's knees felt stiff when he stood up. "Maybe we can
get it on micro . . ." lie said.
"Thanks," the priest answered. "If you can . . . well send
the rolls to Mary. She'll know what to do with them." He
got up quickly and the door slammed after him.
The empty, silent room seemed cold to Glenn Kittler. Un-
bidden, the words of Father Barge came to his mind: "Even
when you're hating him most, you can't help loving the
guy." And through them echoed Father Lynch's voice as it
came each week over the radio in his signature: "God bless
you always and Mary protect you." Suddenly the chill
seemed to leave the room.
The reorganization of the 523rd Quartermaster Group
was completed and, inevitably, the 42nd QM Battalion Mo-
bile was absorbed into it.
Some weeks after its completion, Father Lawrence Lynch.,
now Chief of Chaplains for the Group, sat in the office of
Col. Klein in Col. Klein's chair behind Col. Klein's desk. He
watched the irate colonel pace restlessly to the door and
back, the usual cigar clamped between his teeth.
It was Lynch who broke the silence. "So I've been a bad
boy again, Colonel Julius? What have I done this time?"
"You give me trouble, Father Larry/' Klein's face was
grave, but it took on a deeper hue as Lynch grinned and
nodded. Klein continued with the accusation: "You've been
to the leper colony at Ducos!"
Lynch laughed outright. "Christopher Michael! So you
finally heard about that Well, if you must know, IVe been
going three times a week ever since I landed."
Klein recoiled. "Dammit, man, don't you know that's out
"Not for doctors. And where doctors go, chaplains can go.
And since you've brought up the subject, Colonel Julius,
what about lending those poor devils our movies, after we've
used them, of course."
"Are you mad?" Klein spluttered. "Are you suggesting
that we send . . ."
"Oh, no/' Lynch cut in quickly. "Didn't I ever tell you?
I'm a camera hound. I've been watching Hugh and I can
handle that projector as easy as . . ." He stopped when he
noticed the look in Klein's eyes. "Leprosy is infectious, not
contagious. And I really haven't got it yet!"
Klein was obviously annoyed that the priest had read his
thoughts. "You listen to me, Father. There are no Catholics
at Ducos. That takes it out of your province/*
"You're wrong," Lynch leaned forward to interrupt* "A
man with a working faith is a man close to God, and a man
with any kind of faith who doesn't work at it has something
wrong with him which it is my job to help him straighten
out. If I can't make him into a good Catholic, I do the next
best thing, which means make him a good Protestant or a
"I understand that/' Klein snapped. "Haven't I accepted
you as Rabbi Lynch? But Ducos is out of bounds. You got
no right to go there at all."
"Maybe you're right. All the same . . . look, Colonel
Julius. When I was a kid it wasn't easy for Mom, manag-
ing with only Pop's salary as a fireman. There were a lot of
us, and things were expensive; and right after the first
World War the most expensive thing in the world seemed
to be coal."
"I can't see what that's got to do with Ducos," Klein
snapped when Lynch paused for breath.
"You will. Where we lived in Brooklyn then, it was still
country. Back of us were bushes, and back of them an old
shack. There was an old woman we called her the *goat
woman' because she raised goats for milk she sold she lived
in that shack . . ." he stopped to laugh. "Mom never could
figure why her coal disappeared till Mary made me tell
about stealing it for the goat woman. She trounced me but
good. Afterwards, she kissed me."
He stopped, his head cocked at the man who stood watch-
ing him, then he grinned again. "Bet you a nickel you don't
get the point/*
"You lose/' Klein snapped. "So how long you been taking
our films to Ducos?"
Lynch put back his head and roared. "Only about three
or four months," he said, when he could speak.
"And this poker fund. A percentage of every game. Does
that go to Ducos, too?"
Lynch whistled. "You have been getting around. You know
what? Sometimes it's a good idea for a C.O. not to know
some things/' He wagged a finger at Klein. "Could be it
might keep him out of a jam if he don't."
"Sure. But could be it keeps him out of a game too, Rabbi.
Or did you ever think of that?"
Lynch grinned. "You got a date, Colonel Julius."
Long before Christmas, 1944, the anniversary of Lynch's
arrival on New Caledonia, word filtered through to the Port
of Noumea of the amazing "island hopping" of American
forces: Midway to Guadalcanal, down in the Solomon
Islands, at almost the same time; Wake Island and New
Guinea. Look at the map and take your pick. Where next?
A forced lightness in the voice of Tokyo Rose, a new note
of fear in her delivery as it came through the microphone.
Impossible to figure, to guess where the next bloody land-
ing might be. Makin? Impossible . . . and the Stars and
Stripes floating proudly where the Rising Sun had flown on
Saipan? It will never be attempted! No beachhead could
break through the defense on Saipan, but the beachhead
had become a conquest; another island jewel snatched from
Nippon, another glowing record.
Where next, Aceldama? The war lords in Tokyo studied
the pin-pointed maps with worried frowns.
Coupled with the record were whispered words of fear-
ful losses. Young boys, aged by war, passed through Noumea
on the way "Back" back to the United States and Home-
in their eyes shadows of things beggaring description, but
for all that, with heads proudly high.
The Immortal 27th Division, crowned again with glory.
Again it had weathered the inferno . . . Makin . . . the
hell of Saipan. Bruised, battered, depleted the Immortal
And as word drifted back, other whispers of losses among
those whose "only weapon was the brave cross on their col-
lars," the insignia which was a symbol of peace . . . the
tiny cross which for nearly two thousands years had been
the sign of love, not the hate of war.
Father Meaney, Chaplain of the 165th Infantry of the
27th Division, wounded on Makin.
Father McCabe, Chaplain of the 165th Infantry of the
27th Division, wounded on Saipan.
And the 165th Infantry ordered back for "rest and re-
habilitation" . . . back but only as far as Espiritu Santo-
minus a Catholic chaplain.
In the All-Services Chapel on Noumea, built and rebuilt
by Father Lawrence E. Lynch, the priest knelt in prayer.
The confident assurance, the swagger, the impudence which
had become familiar in every corner of New Caledonia . . .
gone; in their stead, a great humility mingled with a great
love in the words:
"O Lady of Perpetual Helpby that name I beg you, help
me to do the Will of my God and my Lord. Beloved Mother,
show me the way to do the right thing. You know what I
want, my Mother. Yet it is not my will, but the Will of your
Beloved Son which must be obeyed. Teach me to obey, to
say as He said: 'Thy Will be done, O God!'
"But if it is His will . . . help me, O Mother of Perpetual
Help. Show me what to do. Your Beloved Son can refuse
you nothing. As you have never refused me, ask Him to
look with favor on my prayer. I have done what I can here,
my Mother. And there is so much to be done there! So many
of your sons, speeding to eternity, with none to light the way.
Ask Him to give me the grace to go to them ... to help
them. Show me the way. It can be done, but only with Your
help, Mother of Perpetual Help. Help me to do what I can
, . for the greater glory of Your Beloved Son, my Lord
Jesus Christ. Amen.'*
The sun that had been hidden by clouds came out as the
priest crossed himself, and a beam of sunlight found the
bowed head of Father Lynch and rested on it as if in bene-
Father Lynch sat behind Col. Klein's desk, his shoulders
hunched, as he watched Klein slump in a campstool.
"I won't do it, Rabbi/' Klein insisted. "And you can't talk
me into it. So that's final. Besides, what the hell gives you
the idea that getting into the surplus pool will get you a
transfer? And why the devil do you want a transfer any-
how, just when you got things the way you want 'em?"
"Could be that's the reason," Lynch said.
"You listen to me." Klein bit savagely through his cigar.
"No man such as you are could live on an island like this
for a whole year without making enemies. You know what
they'll say when they hear you're asking for a transfer, when
they know you asked to be put into the surplus pool?"
"Colonel Julius, the guys you call nay enemies are the
ones I class as good joes; I'm not worried about them. It's
only the ones who need God whom I can't afford to offend
or have for an enemy. So the good joes will say I'm grand-
standing, looking for self -glory." He laughed as he saw by
Klein's face that those were the very words he had been
thinking. "It doesn't much matter what they say or think,
just so long as they can't say I've given scandal, or that I
have lost one lad who needs my help in finding God."
T[ can't argue with you, Rabbi Larry. Not on that score.
But does it happen to occur to you that a transfer to the
27th Division could defeat your own purpose?"
Lynch's eyebrows raised and lie sat up straight. "I
don't know what you mean/' he said.
Klein used the cigar to punctuate. "The 27th lias just fin-
ished two of the toughest assignments on record. Chances
are they're out and for a very long time."
"Give you odds, Colonel Julius, ten to one," Lynch said,
"What on?" Klein asked.
"On your "chances are' and on the certainty that the 27th
will be right in there pitching, wherever and whenever the
next one happens to be. And while you're at it, aren't you
forgetting that you made me a promise?"
"You can't hold me to that!" Klein snapped. "You made
me promise before I knew it was a transfer you wanted.
Hell, Father, don't you realize the minute you're in the pool
the whole island will know it?"
"Uh-huh," Lynch grinned. "But they'll say I'm a bad boy.
They'll say I've been thrown into it, which should take some
of the curse off the grandstand item. They'll even say I'm
in disgrace. What a disgrace! To be punished by transfer
to chaplain of the 165th Infantry Regiment of the 27th Divi-
sion!" He ended on a laugh.
"What makes you so sure? You could be shipped some-
"The 27th is asking around for a Catholic chaplain with
an Irish name," Lynch grinned. "I'll be the only one in the
surplus pool who fits."
Klein's eyes opened in surprise. "HowM you know that?"
"Oh, I get around as I've told you before. And now that's
settled, about that one week furlough . . /*
"Hey! It's not settled, and how in hell did you know about
the furlough? I only signed the order this morning!"
"My private espionage system works wonders!" Lynch
said. "I'm going to New Zealand since there's not enough
time to go home. I'd like to see it." He cocked his head at
Klein. "By the way, I understand youVe been ordered back
on official business. Don't forget you made me a promise."
Klein lifted his hands in horror. "Not again! I'm making
you no promises. It ain't safe."
"You already have! Will you go and see Mom when you
"Oh, that! You know I will."
Colonel Klein was to visit many times the solid, strong-
faced, quick-moving woman who was Father Larry's "Mom."
He was to become a close friend of the quiet, older edition
of the man he called his Irish Rabbi. But the visit which
made an indelible impression was the first.
"I don't know what we'd have done without your son,"
he told them. "He has been a tremendous influence for good
among the men."
"Is he all right? Is he ... safe?" Breathless fear filled
Klein laughed. "Safe? On New Caledonia? Why, we're as
far from war there as you are here in Brooklyn."
"God be praised for that. Tell me how he looks. Is he
"Well and strong and fine. One of the best." He sipped
the tea she had made for him, lifted it in silent tribute to
"God bless you for coming," Larry Lynch's mother said.
"You know, Colonel, my Lala promised I'd hear from him
every day till the day I die no matter where he is. You
won't believe it, but never a day passes without a letter, a
telephone call or a visit from a friend of Lala's like you
maybe. Every day I hear from him."
Years later, when he was national commander of the Jew-
ish War Veterans and the honored guest at a communion
breakfast of an American Legion post of Catholic War Vet-
erans, Klein repeated those words . . . and they were still
Father John Byrne, chaplain of the Field Artillery bat-
talions of the 27th Division had been home on furlough.
He was returning to his base Espiritu Santo but was de-
layed on New Caledonia awaiting an air ferry back. It was
three days before he got one and he used those three days
to good advantage.
Tall, spare and keen, the priest had been with the 27th
since it first left the United States. He was as much a part
of it as the men who had come with him through Makin
and Saipan; he had been with his men every inch of the
way. He knew and loved his division; he knew and loved
the men he served.
But it was almost impossible for him to care for the men
of two different regiments and do for them the things he
felt should be done. He knew that the 165th was beginning
to feel jittery about this business of a chaplain. They liked
him, but they preferred to have a chaplain of their own.
The man who was called "Brooklyn" or "The Champ/' as
often as he was called "Father Larry" or plain Padre, was
in New Zealand on a week's furlough when Father Byrne
arrived on Noumea. But he heard a lot about Father Law-
rence E. Lynch, and most of what he heard, he liked. There
were some things he didn't like, but the 165th needed a
chaplain too badly to let them stand in the way.
This particular chaplain seemed to fit the qualifications
demanded by the men of the 165th. They were rigid in
their demands: they wanted a priest, and they wanted one
who would live up to the traditions of the Old Fighting
69th, traditions established by Father Duffy in the first
World War. Father Byrne knew those traditions well; he
had come directly to the Armed Forces from Father Duffy's
own parish, Holy Cross, on 42nd Street in Manhattan.
"He's got an Irish name," Byrne told Father Yarwood,
Division Chaplain. "And he's from New York Brooklyn, ac-
tually. To me he sounds like the 165th, and I think the men
would go for him."
"He's too good to be true," Father Lafayette Yarwood
had good reason to sound cynical. It wasn't easy to get any
kind of chaplain for the 165th! "And if he's that good, you
know as well as I do, he won't be available."
"As a matter of fact, that's one thing about him I don't
like too much," Byrne said. "I can't figure why he's avail-
able, or why he's in the surplus pool."
Father Yarwood jumped up. "What? For the love of
Heaven, Johnny, if he's in the pool, let's grab him before
somebody else beats us to it."
"You don't think we should find out why?" Byrne asked.
"I got an idea-from things I heard he's a bit on the radical
"I don't care what he is or why he's in the pool, so long
as he is in it. Ill requisition him at once. If he's any good
as a chaplain, and the men like him, I can't see that any-
thing else matters."
Father Byrne hesitated to express the idea which had
been growing into a certainty the more he thought about it,
but since this seemed to be his pigeon, he thought, he had
very little choice. "It occurred to me that he might have
had himself put into the pool."
Father Yarwood looked surprised. "Are you crazy? Why?"
"Because he's smart," Father Byrne said. "It would be
one way of getting requisitioned into the 165th."
"A glory seeker?" Yarwood frowned.
"I'm not saying he is," Byrne said, "but things I heard . . .
he's no retiring violet, apparently. And he's smart, too. Smart
enough to know if he's in the pool, we'll ask for him. You
think there's a chaplain in service doesn't realize it's an
honor to take over Father Duffy's outfit particularly a New
"You make it sound logical, Johnny," Father Yarwood
nodded. "All the same, if he's that smart, he must know
we're getting set for another tough assignment. If it's just
glory he wants, he must be willing to risk a lot for it."
"I don't know" Byrne admitted. "But I wanted you to
know how I felt about it. If you're satisfied, I am."
"Thanks. I appreciate that," Father Yarwood smiled.
"What I'm concerned with now is, can we get him in time
so he can train with the men before we push off?"
"We can try. And say, talking of pushing off what about
that Mission for the division I suggested. You give it any
"Y^es, Tve thought about it," Yarwood said regretfully. "I
don't think the men would respond, and frankly I can't say
I'd bilame them too much."
"I still think they'd like it," Byrne said, a stubborn note
in his voice. "It wouldn't have to be a long-winded busi-
ness, Wouldn't you at least sound out the other chaplains
and see how they feel about it?"
1 could do that," the division chaplain said. Father Byrne
let it go at that; it was as much as he could expect for the
Ever since the day when he had spoken so revealingly
of Ids family "let his dukes down" was the way Kittler
thought of it Father Lynch seemed determined to alienate
his assistant anew, as though he resented having permitted
anycHie inside his guard. Yet there were other moments as
when Lynch unconsciously showed glimpses of another side
of his nature, glimpses that betrayed his deep reverence and
love for the Mother of God and his worship of God.
Kittler spent many fruitless hours trying to analyze the
man, For nearly a year now, they had worked side by side,
and yet at times, Lynch still made him feel inadequate.
Sometimes, it seemed, he had no patience with Kittler, as
if the gap between them was far too wide to bridge. This
usually happened after the priest had allowed an almost
violent humility denied yet terrible in its intensity to seep
through his "front."
Kittler began to feel that Lynch's very "rowdiness" was a
blind, even though his casual approach to the men never
failed to offend Kittler's sense of the dignity of the chap-
lain's office. Yet, looking back afterwards, he was forced to
admit that the year he had worked with the priest was
one of the most satisfying of his life.
Rarely did the chaplain ascend the altar for Mass with-
out some incident which, at first, profoundly shocked his
assistant; later, on reflection, he realized that the men liked
it, appreciated it. Sometimes Lynch had the altar turned so
that he faced the men throughout the Mass, ordering them
to watch his every movement. He frequently ordered them
to recite parts of the Mass aloud in English while he read
it in Latin: the Confiteor, the Credo, the Pater Noster. But
no matter how unorthodox his actions, he succeeded in mak-
ing the men aware of the Miracle about to be enacted before
Kittler knew now that, despite the feeling of continued
strain and his wish that he had hit it off better with the
priest, he had a deep affection for Father Lynch, When he
learned from Chief Cook McCarthy that Lynch had been
ordered transferred to the 27th Division, he was genuinely
distressed, though he would not have willingly admitted it.
But he was also deeply shocked. It was December twen-
tieth when Kittler heard the news, and Lynch was due to
leave two days later! Worse still, McCarthy had it on excel-
lent authority that it was the priest himself who had re-
quested the transfer!
Staring out the window of the office much as he had
waited a year ago for the new priest Kittler thought of the
many times he had himself written a request for transfer.
He shook his head, remembering Lynch's uncanny ability
to know the right moment to appear and talk him out of it.
And now, . . .
He saw the jaunty swagger, the close-cropped bare head
as Lynch came down the company street, and went to his
desk, pretending to concentrate on something in the type-
writer. As always, he told himself he must not let Lynch
get him into a row. He'd say nothing about the transfer.
He'd remain quiet, controlled; Lynch wasn't catching him
with his defenses down!
Lynch's greeting was the usual "Hi-ya, Champ!" and
Kittler heard himself snap: "So you wanta be a hero!"
The priest pretended not to understand. "What gives? And
where'd you get that crazy idea?'*
"Quit stalling," Kittler barked. "I always knew you were
an egomaniac. So now you wanta get yourself killed. You're
always in such a rush," the words were tumbling out, speak-
ing themselves, giving Kittler no time to think them or
phrase them, **. . . always hurrying somewhere for some-
thing. You never stop to think. You decide to do things like
thatF He snapped his fingers and his gray-blue eyes flashed
his fury, 'Then you expect somebody else to come and get
your dirty work done. You can't get away with it forever.
You . . . you . . " The ache in his throat stopped him.
"You're unusually severe with me today, Champ," Lynch
Kittler shook his head as if to clear it, but the fury rushed
up in him again. "You . . . you figure if you're a hero,
maybe . . . maybe . . . Dammit, one day 111 write a book
about you. I'll put in it all the conceit, all the common, all
the damned stuck-up . . . This is one time you've bitten off
a big chunk. You can't get away with it. I tell you, it's just
. . . just . . ." He had no idea how incoherent it sounded;
it didn't matter.
"What'll you call it, Kit?" Lynch asked, using for the first
time a name only Kittler's closest friends used. "Something
like Everything's Part of the Act?" His tone was teasing. "Or
maybe something dumb like Looking for Death? You still
think I'm phony, don't you? That I'm putting on an act?"
"What else can it be?" Battler wished his throat didn't
ache. "Everything's got to be done in a hurry. Life, death,
even the Holy Mass. So Lynch makes it hurry, hurry, hurry,
like a circus barker. I just wanta know what you figure to
gain by getting yourself killed. A medal? So what?"
"What makes you think I'm that dumb?" Lynch asked
"You can't kid me, see? I know you. You think you're a
great dramatist, see. You gotta strut your stuff, see." He
punctuated each one with a stab of his forefinger on Lynch's
chest. "You . . . you . . . why, it'd shame you to die slow.
You gotta go dramatic."
"You don't think much of my faith, Glenn," Lynch said.
"What you're suggesting sounds a lot like suicide."
"All right Then why'd you fix it to die like this?"
"If you insist can you think of a better way?" Lynch
asked, "If I am to die, is there a better way than in the
service of my God, for whom I was ordained a priest, and
of the men I love, for whom I became a chaplain?"
Kittler wanted to say something, but when he opened his
lips to speak, no words came. Whatever the priest saw in
his face seemed to satisfy him; he nodded, touched Kittler's
jaw gently with his closed fist and smiled.
"Always remember to do everything for God, Kit. He'll
bless you and keep you smiling, and may His Blessed Mother
watch over you." And suddenly he was gone.
Kittler's eyes stung and he brushed his hand over them
impatiently. He inhaled deeply, a long, shuddering breath.
"I love that louse, that wretch, that . . . that . . . damned
Brooklyn," he muttered, wholly unaware that he spoke the
The chaplain's office was oddly quiet; it had been so for
nearly a week now, empty of the vital presence which could
irritate Kittler to distraction, yet he found it difficult to con-
centrate on the work piled high on his desk, most of it taken
from Lynch's files; he was sorting it for microfilm.
The hurt of Lynch's departure without a word of fare-
well had lessened somewhat; there were times when he was
glad the priest had chosen to disappear. But even yet, though
the chaplain's jeep was at his disposal, he had no desire to
go anywhere or do anything but the job he had promised
Lynch he would do on the files.
He had not looked at the mail as yet and picked it up
now with indifference. The sight of his name in LyncKs
familiar, unmistakable scrawl snapped him to attention. He
ripped open the large envelope and stared at the photostat.
It was headed in caps:
FOR OUTSTANDING SERVICES
CAPTAIN LAWRENCE E. LYNCH, 0-428150
CHAPLAIN'S CORPS, UNITED STATES ARMY
and below that, a block of text:
You are highly commended for outstanding services in
the South Pacific Area from December 1943 to December
1944. As chaplain representing the Catholic faith in the New
Caledonia Island Command, you have had a stimulating in-
fluence on a great number of troops. These men, whose work
was carried on under difficult and trying circumstances
through long hours of day and night without adequate recre-
ation or rest periods, have found you always ready as their
constant advisor and benefactor, as well as religious leader.
You realized early in your stay the important part a man
of your calling could play in furthering the war effort by
maintaining contact with the troops under your care. To
that end you were always available to care for their wel-
fare. You did not wait for their request for assistance, but
sought them out at their work and in their organizations, in
order to administer to their needs. You were tireless in your
efforts, always inspiring men to greater devotion to God and
Country. The exemplary manner in which you performed
your job, above and beyond the call of duty, reflect good
credit on yourself, your profession and the military service.
(signed) F. Gilbreath
Major General, USA. Commanding
Glenn Kittler read it through, without emotion, until he
saw the familiar scrawl across the bottom:
"I owe this to you for your grand cooperation, patience
and understanding. Thanks, Champ. God and Mary love
you and bless everything you do. Father Larry, Brooklyn."
Glenn Kittler didn't bother to wipe the tears from his
eyes, letting them run, unashamed, down his cheek. His
chest was tight when he prayed: "God keep you safe, Father
The Army High Command refers to such places as Espi-
ritu Santo, largest of the New Hebrides group, as a "rest
center," In army jargon this means literally the reverse of
a place of rest.
There is no time for rest in active warfare; men "on the
line" know that. They well know the torturing need for rest
and sleep, a need which can be worse than wounds or ill-
ness. But when they are back of the line, they know that
"rest" means hardening: preparation for days when rest is
utterly impossible, preparation for the next push, rehabilita-
tion and the filling in of vacant spaces in the unit line.
Raw, untried, and unseasoned troops must be taught the
business of active war. They must learn the new tricks their
brothers learned in combat at the cost of limbs and the
lives of buddies. They must learn how to become part of a
fighting unit, as a finger is part of a hand and a hand part
of the arm, a long, grueling process of daily, hourly work.
Every man on Espiritu Santo came to know that this was
no "rest" billet that "rest center" was a misnomer for the
staging area where the very intensity of their training
warned them the next job would be "It." Day after day,
officers and enlisted men went through all the rigors of ac-
tual warfare. A man could gripe to his heart's contentthat
was his privilege as a free man, his heritage as a soldier-
but there were no "dry runs" here, and he knew it. As easy
to die by the accidental shot of a buddy, if a man was care-
less with live ammo, as by enemy fire on the line.
Damn nonsense working on front-line rations with a
cookshack right there waiting for orders. But men who
crawled through stinking jungles, learning that life could
depend on the speed of digging a foxhole, had no time for
Nights and days spent in foxholes seemed so unnecessary
here, but how else to learn the checkerboard system of "time
in and time out"? The ability to live without sleep or rest
could mean the difference between life and death!
Espiritu Santo, nearly twice as long as its forty-five mile
width, is a lovely, tree-shaded, heavily wooded island, dotted
with streams, many of them navigable for long distances by
small craft. It has some excellent harbors and some not so
good, but most of them ideal for "landing tactics." Mt. Santo,
along the coastline to the west, with a peak of 5,520 feet,
has at its base beautiful, broad and fertile valleys where an
enemy might be expected to lay in wait.
"Santo" has rough roads and hidden places where a
swampy, steamy morass might be filled with deadly snakes.
The Japanese knew how to protect themselves from snakes;
Americans must learn. Soldiers of the Rising Sun could lurk
safely in swamps; Americans must search them out.
There are places on "Santo" where the sun beats down
mercilessly on treeless, shadeless spaces such a space, for
example, as that occupied by the 27th Division.
The 27th Division was spread out in a vast T-shaped area,
with division headquarters the crossbar of the T and the
rest subdivided into sections. The regiment farthest from
headquarters was the 165th Infantry.
The physical plant was no different from Camp Wheeler
in Georgia, Camp Polk in Louisiana, or a camp on the edge
of the Mofave Desert but this was not the United States,
and that made a difference.
There were other differences. The pitiless sun wasn't the
same nor the sudden, heavy rains which beat down on tent-
covered shacks. The insects swarming in droves after dark
were not the same; they forced stringent regulations. No
man moved after dark without his mosquito repellent; no
man left the button of his collar or cuffs open after sunset,
from general to buck private.
The men were the samewith the same hates and loves
and fears and boredom. Griping helped some, but griping
could not assuage prickly heat or the eternally damned crud
the fungus infection with no remedy, which itched unbear-
ably and drove a man to the brink of insanity.
Griping couldn't ease the terrible hunger for loved ones,
the yearning for "home/' the waiting, waiting, waiting.
Sometimes a chaplain could help, but the 165th had had
bad luck with chaplains. Nobody could expect them to go
"up" without a chaplain, and their chaplain had to be some-
thing special everybody knew that!
The small chapel in the exact center of the 165th section
was empty. Next to it, a regulation canvas tent set aside for
the regiment's chaplain was also empty. Time was running
out. No man knew how long they'd be here, and a chap-
lain had a right to get to know guys; they had a right to
get to know him. Would he be "regular"? Or ...
Lt. Col. Joseph Hart, regimental executive officer of the
165th and second in command to Col. Girard Kelley, sat
beside Lt. Col. Dennis Claire, 3rd Battalion Commander,
in the officers' mess, and Claire told him news which was
already three days old.
"You're mad! He couldn't have been here three days and
us not know it. Where in hell has he been? Doesn't he eat?"
"In the men's mess," Claire said with a grin. "Even they
didn't know who he was."
"But . . . dammit, why wasn't I told?" the executive of-
ficer demanded. "Surely Father Yarwood knew!"
"I doubt it. Seems he wanted to get oriented before an-
nouncing his arrival. If it hadn't been for the notice on the
bulletin board, I wouldn't have known it yet. Mass, tomor-
row morning at half-past five, it said, and it was signed
Father Lawrence Lynch. So I called Yarwood."
"We'll have to have a chat with this Father Lynch/' Hart
said. "He doesn't seem to know there are some regulations
in this man's Army. If he's triyng to be a smart guy, we'll
have to teach him some army manners."
"Maybe he's just dumb/' Claire said. "Sometimes they
shove 'em through so fast that , . ."
Hart stopped him with a snort. "If he is, he'd better get
over it quick."
The chaplain of any fighting unit of men, if lie is wise,
knows that a great deal is expected of him by the men he
is sent to serve, but to use that maxim in reference to the
chaplain of the 165th Infantry Regiment of the 27th Divi-
sion was to make a gross understatement of fact.
To the men of the 165th, their chaplain was different, a
being superior to all others, of whom they could be proud
in a personal way. Inured to hardship, danger, death, they
had had reason to be proud of Father Meaney on Makin
and Father McCabe who got "his" on Saipan. They were
inordinately proud of the regiment and its record, and they
almost deified these two men, particularly in the absence of
a chaplain of their own. Any successor to Meaney and Mc-
Cabe had standards already set up for him.
Father Byrne had done his best for them. They knew it
and were grateful, but it was not enough. Now, apparently,
they had a chaplain again, and it was well he had come
when he did, for in one respect, at least, a chaplain was no
different from any other man in the regiment. He had to
be broken in, trained d^wn as any rookie from back home.
He had to prove himself a good soldier as well as a good
Veterans of two of the worst campaigns in the whole
South Pacific theater of war, the men of the 165th were will-
ing to give the new man a chance, but it was up to him.
They weren't going out to meet him; they were glad to have
him, but they would not show it, yet. It was an unwritten
law that he was on trial.
Lt. Col. Joseph Hart was as well aware of this axiom as
any man in the outfit, and while he harbored a feeling of
annoyance at the chaplain who had not done him the ordi-
nary courtesy of reporting his presence on Santo, he was
nevertheless curious about the man Lynch. He was also con-
siderably surprised at the turnout of men for that early
Sunday morning Mass. Quite obviously, the men knew the
chaplain had arrived; the chapel had not been so crowded
since the regiment came to Santo.
Father Lawrence Lynch was in uniform when he stepped
to the foot of the improvised altar, his collar turned under,
his cap in his belt. On a table close by were the Mass vest-
ments, but the priest ignored them for the moment. He
stood there waiting, legs apart, his dark eyes darting over
the men in the chapel.
Men who had been kneeling seated themselves, and those
already seated seemed to lean forward. Hart, sitting next to
Dennis Claire, nudged him, eyebrows raised,
Now Lynch smiled, moved forward a step and spoke in
a clear, distinct voice. "I am Father Lawrence Lynch and
I'm from Brooklyn." He put into it all the swaggering as-
surance to be expected from such a statement, and then
he waited. The laughter began down front, picked up and
spread, and men who had come for Mass because it was
Sunday and because it was expected of them, forgot for the
moment that they were in church.
Lynch knew he was on trial. This was no bored gang on
Noumea, no bunch of raw recruits back in the States. He was
dealing with seasoned men many of them young in years
but older than he was! If he faltered now . . . There was
no sign of hesitation as he crossed his arms with exaggerated
"I'm God's gift to the Army and to you guys," he said,
"and if any man doubts that statement, 111 be glad to prove
it after Mass."
His cocky belligerence was so out of keeping with his
stature, that the titter swelled into a belly laugh and echoed
throughout the chapel. As if he waited until he was sure it
was laughter, Lynch nodded at them, smiled, and lifted his
hand for silence.
"Thanks," he said. "Now, let's get down to the business be-
fore us. We're going to celebrate Holy Mass thafs what
you're here for. But before we begin, let's talk just a minute
about this business of the Mass itself. In just a few minutes,
we're going to witness a miracle. You hear that? A miracle,
men. Never forget that it is a miracle. Because in just a few
minutes, I'm going to stand there, at that altar, and I'm going
to bring Jesus Christ here to you.
"I'm going to repeat His very own Words, those unfor-
gettable, incredible Words . . . and by the power which
God Himself has given me, I will change bread and wine
into the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
"His own Sacred Body. His very own Blood. Jesus Christ,
Himself! He will be here in person. He will be here before
your very eyes, ready to come into your hearts, if you will
"Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Who was willing to
hide His divine nature, Who was willing to take on our
human nature, so that we might call Him brother.
"You wouldn't hesitate to talk to your brother. Would
you? Of course not. Okay, then. Let's get going all together
in this business of talking to God.
"The Mass is one way of talking to God. When you par-
ticipate in the Mass, you're talking to God. I am only your
instrument in this business of the miracle of changing bread
and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ; this is YOUR
Mass. You must do your share to make it acceptable to God.
"When you see the living Christ here before you on the
altar, that gives you a break. That gives you your chance to
talk to Him. Tell Him what's in your hearts. Remember that
I am only your go-between. I am only the guy who is here
to bring you and Christ together. Tell Him your problems.
Talk to Him as you would talk to your brother.
"Remember, men. This is YOUR Mass. I am only your am-
bassador, designated to bring you and Jesus Christ together.
God bless you and keep you happy always/* He raised his
hand in benediction.
He turned, moved to the side table and began putting on
the vestments, giving them time to digest what he had said
before beginning the Mass.
Then he stepped to the foot of the altar again, turned to
them again and said: "111 be in the confessional after Mass/'
Lt. Col Hart and Lt. Col. Claire left the chapel together,
but neither man spoke until they were nearly halfway to
their adjoining huts. As if by mutual consent, they stopped
and looked at each other.
"What do you think, Dinny?" Hart asked the man who
had been his friend for many years.
"Looks like we got us a chaplain."
One week passed before Father John Byrne met the new
chaplain of the 165th Regiment, but he had given no thought
to the matter. He was too busy trying to work out details of
his dream for giving one Mission for the whole 27th Di-
vision. It wasn't easy to sell Yarwood on the idea, though he
had promised to sound out the other chaplains in the di-
Father Byrne glanced at his watch as he neared his tent-
shack. He had a good ten minutes before he was due at
division headquarters, time for a cat nap. He was dog tired
and would appreciate those ten minutes stretched out on
His shirt was half unbuttoned when he opened his door,
and as he was peeling it off a voice from his cot stopped him
"Hi-ya, Champ!" was Lynch's greeting. "Nice spot you
"You must be Larry Lynch," Byrne said, his eyes coldly
appraising the man who was stretched out on his cot, knees
up, one resting on the other, a yellow pad his! on the raised
knee and Byrne's one good pen being used to make scratches
"From Brooklyn," Lynch said, adding, "and that's usually
good for one grin at least."
"Ill bet," Byrne said dryly. "Who let you in?"
"You forgot to close the door."
Byrne began to rebutton his shirt, resigning himself to the
loss of his ten-minute rest.
"Nice outfit, the 165th," Lynch said, with a hint of con-
descension. "Not much of a turnout at daily Mass, but that's
probably because they've been without a chaplain for so
Father Byrne was stung into a reply. "You try taking care
of two regiments and see what it's like!"
Lynch chuckled. "Okay, Johnny. Don't get riled."
"If you're here for a reason, spill it," Byrne snapped. "I've
got to be at GHQ . . ."
"I know," Lynch interrupted, throwing his legs to the floor
and himself to a sitting position. "I'm giving a Mission for
the 105th Infantry Regiment and I'd like you to help."
Father Byrne stared for a moment in amazed disbelief.
"For the 105th? Why not for the 165th?"
"Because Father Dinn, chaplain of the 105th Infantry,
asked me to. After it's over, 111 give one for the 165th . . ,"
It was Byrne's turn to interrupt. The sound he made was
meant for a laugh, but it came out a moan. Here it was
again! The thing he had been trying to fight for weeks, and
if this new guy, trained as a missionary, felt that way about
it, what chance of convincing Yarwood?
"Sure," he said. "And after the 165th, you can give one for
the 105th Field Artillery. And then well have one for the
106th Infantry and another one for the 106th Field Ar-
Lawrence Lynch moved swiftly and stood before the
taller man, staring at him. His voice was low and intense.
"What're you trying to tell me, Johnny?"
"How much time you think we've got?" Byrne demanded.
"May as well plan a Mission for each company and each
battalion! I still don't see why one for the whole di-
vision . . ."
"Any place big enough?" Lynch immediately picked out
the one possible stumbling block.
"The division theater is big enough to hold the men wholl
come. It's centrally located, but . . . oh, what's the use?
Father Yarwood is right, of course. Men who are out train-
ing for ten- twelve hours . . /*
"It's a magnificent idea, Johnny," Lynch said, his face
alight. "It would make history!"
"Quit kidding yourself/' Byrne said. "I told you. Yarwood
is sure there'd be no turnout, and you know as well as I do
that a badly attended Mission is worse than no Mission at
"Quite true/' Lynch said, "but if we could convince Yar~
wood it wouldn't be badly attended?" He grinned. "Would
Yarwood object then?"
"Hey, don't go misquoting me," Byrne said. "Yarwood
doesn't object. It's just he doesn't want to make a bad im-
"I know," Lynch nodded. "So we'll give the Mission for
the 105th Infantry Regiment, and when he sees the turnout
for it, he'll be the first to agree that a division Mission can't
"You're damned cocky about it," Byrne snapped. "I've been
trying to sell the idea to Yarwood for more than a month."
Lynch lifted the yellow pad he still held and extended it
to the other man. "What do you think of it?" he asked.
Father Byrne looked at it without interest, then his eyes
narrowed as he studied it more closely. Despite its roughed
in stage, there was no mistaking the Hodegetria. His eyes
returned to the face of the shorter man, a question in them.
"She'll see the 105th Infantry Mission is tremendous,"
Lynch said quietly. "And that the division Mission is terrific.
She's never let me down yet and she's not going to begin
Lt Col. Joseph Hart stood before a wall map of the island
of Espiritu Santo, moving pins around, plotting tomorrow's
"'campaign" for his staff conference. He did not turn at the
sound of footsteps but snapped: "Well, what is it?" and con-
tinued his work. When he got no response, he swung around
angrily and almost tripped over his chair and the man who
sat in it.
"Col. Joe Hart, I believe," Lynch said with an exaggerated
"You . . ." Hart stopped and changed it to: "It's taken
you quite a while to get around to me, Father Lynch/'
"Uh-huh. Hasn't it?" Lynch grinned with no sign of
Hart studied him with cold appraisal, and Lynch returned
the look, his face expressionless now. Drops of moisture glis-
tened on the priest's forehead, and Hart took note of the
collar turned under, the cap tucked into his belt; a thin film
of fine gray dust was on the dark, close-cropped head a
dust peculiar to "Santo," which was part basalt and part
the residue of volcanic eruptions from one of the active
craters on Mt. Santo.
Suddenly Hart nodded. "But you really should put in an
appearance at the officers' mess, you know," he said, as if
it had been a subject long under discussion.
"Okay," Lynch said. "Tonight."
"Good." Hart offered Lynch a cigarette, lit it and took one
for himself. "Now, did you want to see me about something
"Uh-huh," Lynch said.
Hart grinned. "I figured as much otherwise you wouldn't
be here. Well?"
"I want you to come to a Mission we're giving for the
105th Infantry Regiment. I may need your help when we
tackle Father Yarwood about a Mission for the whole di-
"How come the 105th Infantry?" Hart asked the natural
"It's Father Dinn's idea; he wanted one for the 105th.
And Father Byrne suggested one for the division, but Father
Yarwood didn't think it would be a success, so we want this
one to go over first to show him."
"I've got nothing to say about it," Hart said. "Yarwood is
division chaplain and he's the one got final say."
Lynch nodded, "We know that. But we've got to have a
turnout for this Mission to prove to him we'll have a turnout
for the big one."
Something about the way he said it made Hart pause. At
last, he said: "Okay, Father. What's behind all this? You're
not fooling me for a minute. You've got something up your
sleeve; out with it."
"You're a bright boy, Colonel Joe. Let it go until after
the 105th Mission. That'll be time enough."
The first Catholic Mission ever given on Espiritu Santo
was a success. The chapel of the 105th Infantry Regiment
of the 27th Division was hardly large enough for the men
who attended it: many from other regiments were present,
despite the short notice and lack of publicity.
In addition to the 105th Infantry Regiments own chap-
lain, Father Dinn, and Father John Byrne, chaplain of the
27th Division's Field Artillery, Lynch asked Father Duhart
-another Redemptorist and chaplain of the 106th Infantry-
to assist. They all took turns preaching, and the men gave
them flattering attention. When it was over, even Father
Yarwood admitted it had been a complete success.
Later, at his request, all Catholic chaplains based on
Santo met with him in his office, a tent no different from the
others on the island. If anything, it was smaller than most,
but the men who crowded into it were used to roughing it
Some squatted on the floor in the center, near the desk; two
of them used corners of the desk behind which sat Father
Lafayette Yarwood, and the only other chair was occupied
by Father Lawrence E. Lynch.
"I've had an ambitious project handed me," Father Yar-
wood told them, "and Yd like your opinions. Before he left
on furlough, Father Byrne had suggested it, but until re-
cently I honestly didn't believe it a possibility. Operation
Missiona Mission for the whole division. What do you
Some of the men who faced him were very young, with
old, wise faces lighted by eyes that had looked on pain, suf-
fering, and death and that knew much of humanity. Most of
them had been on Saipan and Makin. They were brothers-in-
arms, friends, associates of the men they loved and served.
They had known the same exhaustion; the same human re-
sentment at being pushed beyond endurance; the same de-
termination to go on beyond the required limits.
Their reactions were immediate and satisfying; they were
unanimous in their instant ratification of the idea presented
"It could be a failure," Yarwood said, after some moments
of silence. "It is a big undertaking, and if any one of you
feels it could be too much, or if you think there is any possi-
bility of failure, please remember that I was the first to ob-
ject and have no hesitancy in saying so/' His eyes searched
every face. Without a word, each head nodded in turn.
"Thanks," he said. "The 27th Division will now proceed to
make history. Well give a Catholic Mission with every
Catholic chaplain participating in it. Now, what about dates?
"Easter falls on April first," Father Dinn said. "If we hold
it in late February . . ."
"Wait," Father Byrne cut in. "Sure it's a good idea to hold
it in Lent, but how can we be sure we'll be here that long?"
"Johnny is right," Father Duhart said. "Judging by the
way the men are being high-pressured in training, we could
be shoving off any timel"
"We could start it February twelfth," Lynch said.
"That doesn't give us much time to get the men behind
it," Duhart objected. "We may have to prod some . . ."
"It will have to do/' Yarwood said. "If we're going to do
it, we've got to get on the ball at once."
"What about the rains?" Byrne asked. "Or have you all for-
gotten that our 'theater' is ... slightly open-air? Most of
the guys have even stayed away from the movies at night,
it's been so wet."
"The rain won't keep them away/' Lynch said confidently.
"We'll get a turnout in spite of it."
"Father Lynch is a missionary/' Yarwood said. "It seemed
to me it would be wise for him to take charge."
They accepted it as they would have accepted any order
given them by their superior, but the previous feeling of
unanimity was disturbed. There was no doubt of the pull-
ing back. Lynch didn't help it by adding: "Rain or not, 111
lay odds we have the biggest turnout . . ." He stopped, sud-
denly aware of the new tension.
This man was a stranger to them, a rookie fresh from the
"back." What did he know of their men? Byrne remembered
some of the things he had heard on Noumea; things he had
deliberately withheld from Father Yarwood when they had
first discussed Lynch.
Father Lynch realized that his complacency had made
some of them look at him with new interest while others had
withdrawn. He needed these men, needed their understand-
ing and their cooperation. "This Mission can't fail/' he said.
"It will be given under the auspices of the most potent, in-
vincible sponsor any Mission ever had Our Lady of Per-
petual Help. She's never let me down yet, and she's not go-
ing to begin now. That's why I can afford to lay odds on it"
It was an astonishing thing for one priest to say to an as-
sembly of his peers, yet he spoke so simply, so quietly of
someone close and infinitely dear! In some strange fashion,
he had spoken of his Mother and as a man's physical mother
is peculiarly his, so had the Mother of God become his per-
Now he stood up abruptly, a spot of color on each cheek.
"Excuse me, Father/' he said to Yarwood. "But I've got a
date with Col. Hart/'
Without knocking, he entered Hart's office. It was empty,
but he seated himself behind the desk, legs sprawled out be-
fore him in supreme relaxation. He lighted a cigarette from
a pack on the desk and had taken two long drags on it be-
fore the executive officer returned.
Hart's eyes widened in surprise: "Twice the same week,
Father? You trying to convert me?'*
Lynch laughed. "I just told some folks I had a date with
you, so I had to make it true. Besides, remember you prom-
ised to help when we give the Mission for the division,"
"I didn't promise, and I told you Father Yarwood's the
one who has last word on a thing like that."
Lynch waved his hand. "Oh, that! It's all settled Febru-
ary twelfth. Maybe three- four days. But I've been worrying
about something else. Since I'm the only chaplain with the
165th, what do we do about Protestants and Jews?"
"You're not figuring on putting on a Mission for them., are
you?" Hart grinned, and was amazed to see Lynch jump up.
"Say, that's an idea!"
"Wait a minute, Father!" Hart protested. "I was only jok-
ing, cracking wise."
"No man's religion is a joke, Colonel Joe/' Lynch said, an
edge to his voice. "Whatever his faith, so long as he lives
up to it . . ."
"Hey, hold it, Father. Don't misunderstand me. What I
meant was . . . well, after all, Protestants and Jews don't
go in for Missions. And if you try starting something, you'll
get yourself into a sweet jam, take my word for it. Why, the
other chaplains even the Catholics! would probably raise
merry hell if ... excuse me . . ."
"When I was down in Louisiana, Colonel, there was a
Negro soldier wanted to get married. His girl came from
New York, but things were rough for them. Both were col-
lege graduates, but poor, pitifully poor, with families to
worry about, but they wanted a real wedding more than
anything in life. A friend of mine got his wife to lend Irene
her own wedding gown, and Horace wore my best dress
uniform without the insignia, of course.
"What a wedding that was! You couldn't buy anything for
a party, but we rustled 'em the swellest wedding breakfast
any couple ever had. There wasn't a hotel room in town, so
Horace put his bride into my jeep and they went off to a
cottage loaned 'em by another one of my friends. It was all
stocked up, too! Horace hated to marry Irene that way, but
he wanted to be sure, he said, she'd be okay if ... anything
happened to him." His voice dropped. "I guess his insur-
ance came in mighty handy when their baby was bom."
He seemed lost in thought for some seconds and then Hart
said, **I don't quite get the connection, Father,"
Lynch laughed softly. "Horace was a Baptist when I first
met him. And Irene was Methodist. But Horace liked Mis-
sions tremendously. He used to attend them all never missed
a Mission service if he could make it. Later, after they were
baptized . . ." He grinned at Hart and changed what he
intended to say. "Irene named the boy Lawrence/' he said.
Hart nodded slowly. "Okay, Father/' he said. "I hope your
Catholic, Protestant and Jewish Missions come oflF all right.
If I can do anything to help, let me know. Just don't get me
all snarled up with the Chaplains' Corps."
'Til try not to/' Lynch laughed. "But you never can tell,
In one respect at least, the expectation of the whole Corps
of Chaplains of the 27th Division was completely fulfilled
when the division Mission was held on Santo. It rained. Hour
after hour and night after night, the incessant rain beat down
on the half-covered "stage" where the Mission was held.
The resemblance between a real theater and the appella-
tion "Division Theater" was coincidental. Hard wooden
benches actually slabs of lumber on wooden staves circled
the great, bowl-like area, spreading out in ever-widening
tiers. The "stage" was a bare, elevated platform with a white
cloth screen set up for movies. This, and the table which had
been arranged as an altar, were under the canvas half cover,
and just within it, also sheltered from the rain, was the
microphone connected to the loud-speaker system.
The "floor" of the theater was a soggy, muddy swamp, and
the aisles were rivers of sticky mud through which men
slithered on their way to seats.
Despite the rain, the mud and the sticky heat, men came
to the Mission, and with them came swarms of mosquitoes
and insects, disdainful of the pelting rain, eager for a chance
at the unwitting soldier who dared disobey the O.D.'s routine
order which opened every service:
"By order of the Commanding General, all enlisted per-
sonnel in the area will keep buttoned the top button and
sleeves of their uniforms, whether denim or CKC outfits
after evening mess. All division officers are required to wear
ties after evening mess and keep sleeves buttoned."
Ponchos those invaluable coveralls which, at a moment's
notice, could become the top of a tent or part of a foxhole-
were heavy and hot, but at least they kept a man dry. The
priests, their cassocks over their uniforms, did not wear
them. To some extent they were sheltered while they stood
at the altar for Mass or to preach.
Father Larry Lynch made the keynote address: "This Mis-
sion will be a confession drive. We have a quota to fill and
God quoted that quota at a hundred per cent for us. This
week you are all salesmen for Christ. You have to sell Him
to yourself, and to that fellow who wears a dog tag with a
large *C' on it . . . but who hasn't calloused his knees wear-
ing out the confession box or the communion rails.
"Confession is the Sacrament of Mercy . . . the Sorrow for
offending God . . . the telling of your sins and your guar-
antee, promise, resolution to love God always.
"No one can try to duck out bashfully on the plea that he
will be noticed or stared at ... there are too many others
like himself! That is the great blessing of a Mission ... a
chance to step in line, keep in line, and keep in step with
"This Mission is a Communion drive. Every Catholic goes
to Confession and Communion during the Mission; even the
lad who hasn't been around lately, even the lad whose next
Communion will seem like a First Communion, it is so long
since his last.
"The time away isn't important. I will personally guaran-
tee that your Confession will take no longer because of the
time away. I will personally guarantee that your time away
will not make your Confession harder, and I will back that
"To any man within sound of my voice or to any man
who carries my message to the man who can keep me hear-
ing his confession for longer than three minutes, I offer a
case of beer! Three minutes! It doesn't matter if it has been
three days, three years, or thirty years a case of beer if I
keep you longer than three minutes for your full Confes-
The bustle of interest became laughter, and Lynch let it
swell and die before he went on> his voice pulling every man
close to him through the public address system:
"Okay, you're all set Mission means Mercy of God. God
the Good Shepherd. If you haven't been close to Godyou're
the guy God wants. At least six priests are here always, at
your service, to answer your questions, solve your problems,
hear your confessions and give your God to you. There will
be more if you need them.
"This is a Confession drive. This is a Communion drive.
Make it a hundred per center, for Jesus Christ. God bless
you always and keep you smiling."
That first night, Father Yarwood himself gave them the
lesson, and it was Father Byrne who led them in the Rosary,
and the moment he stepped before the microphone, the rain
came down with renewed vigor. Men ducked their heads
down to protect their faces from the pelting sting of it.
Lynch went up to the kneeling priest, signaled him to
move away from the microphone, and when he was out of its
range, whispered, "Johnny, don't kneel facing them. Kneel
with your back to them."
"You're crazy!" Byrne said. "If I do that, Til be outside the
"Sure. And you'll give them a good example because you'll
be out in the rain as much as they are."
"Yeah, and I'll get very wet," Byrne snapped. "They're
wearing ponchos. I'm wearing a cassock."
"But can't you see how much more important that makes
"No I can't," Byrne said. "But if that's the way you want
it, I guess that's the way it's gotta be."
"It's the way I think it should be," Lynch corrected him,
refusing the suggestion that he had issued an order.
Father Byrne shrugged, knelt out in the rain and began
For the three days of the division Mission on Santo it
rained . , . rained as it can rain only in the South Pacific.
Sometimes, during the daytime, steamy heat replaced the
interminable rain, and sometimes the sun slunk behind a
heat haze which was infinitely worse than a direct glare.
But at night, it rained.
Yet, each succeeding night of the three-day Mission, more
and more men jammed themselves into the division theater;
some of them even squatted in the mud of the aisles, using
their ponchos as cover and mat.
The division chaplains all took turns preaching, teaching
the lessons of the Mission, spending long hours inside the
improvised confessional boxes because long, long lines of
men formed outside them. Every priest did what he could
to make the Mission a tremendous success.
But it was Father Lawrence Lynch, in his element with
all the tremendous volume of detail, always ready to talk
with the men, always where he was most wanted, inex-
haustible, patient, yet seeming to burn with inner fire when
he talked to them, who captured their imaginations, who
made them think.
He spoke intimately of Christ.
"He was a soldier, too. His whole life was a successful
campaign. He was thorough, tactical, tremendously ener-
getic and victorious. 'Learn of Me. . . . Be you imitators of
Me. . . . Follow Me. . . / So He invites us to ally ourselves
with Him, to join our weakness to His endless strength.
"Follow Him through that final battle, the Bataan wherein
He gave up His life to save us, so we would not die forever
. . . that defeat and death from which He rose again, Victor
over evil and death itself.
"As any good soldier shoulders his gun, He carried His
Cross. That was His weapon in His battle for the triumph.
His feet kept sliding, slithering over the slippery surfaces of
the cobblestones of the streetglossed over with His own
blood. Like our men, slogging in steaming jungle lands, His
heels skidded on the greasy clots of blood until He fell
sprawling out beneath that cross in utter weariness.
"When you put on your steel helmet, or adjust its biting
edge on your forehead, think of the helmet He wore. It was
green too, green as o.d. paint. It covered His entire Head,
circling it about like our own steels; only where our iron hats
shield off pain, His helmet of green thorns dug into His
skull with all those stabbing points like the thousand splinters
of searing metal a personnel bomb scatters into a man's
''When your fighting clothes stiffen with sweat and dust
and stink and itch and chafe and encumber you, think of the
Soldier Christ, straggling along in the clutter of torn rags
clotted with His blood and sweat and the dust of the way.
"Think of Him as He took the hill of Victory and Death.
There He was struck with the mortal blow. They hoisted
Him up. He was thrown against the heavens such as a body
of many another fighter has been suddenly struck, kicked
and bounced upwards with the force of impact of pain
and hate. There He hung, streaming blood in His pain,
spread out against the sky on His huge, tilting cross. Then
they drove a bayonet through His heart!
"Through it all, unto the Divine death itself, there stood
by Him His Mother. Like those other marvelously heroic
women of America, our nurses, she watched and soothed
His dying moments; she cared for His dear dead Body when
He chose to yield up the ghost. As she prepared the Body
of her Boy for burial, she was consoled because she knew
that death was not the end.
"That heartbroken afternoon she knew that the battle was
won, since here was proof of the greatest love of liberty, the
liberty He died to give us, the liberty of being the sons of
God. She whispered again His own dear words: 'Greater
love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for
"We are His friends. He gave His life for us; we at least
can live for Him. There is nothing we suffer He has not al-
ready suffered for us. He knows life and knows death too.
He knew it to conquer it. We, in our appointed sphere of
soldiery, elbow death, stare it in the face, knowing that
Christ is near us, teaching us to be like Him, to act like Him.
. "For the present, He says to you: 'Come to me, you that
labor and are heavily burdened and I will refresh you/ For
the future, listen while He says: 1 am the Resurrection and
"That is how to act like God.
"God bless you and deliver you from evil always/*
Night after night, men formed themselves into long lines
for Confession. Many kept a wary eye on their watches, the
memory of that offer of a case of beer tantalizingly before
them, but Father Lynch kept his boast: no man was in his
confessional longer than three minutes.
The other priests followed the cue he had thrown them,
and men who had given no thought to Confession for years,
got into the fast moving lines. Some were sheepish at first,
but found themselves in and out of the improvised boxes so
fast that they knew only that they had been to Confession
and had received Absolution.
It was natural that many waited until the last night. Fore-
seeing this, Lynch had arranged that all eight priests of the
division were on hand for the lines which formed, dimin-
ished, formed again.
Lt. Col. Hart and Lt. Col. Claire were among those who
had waited. Now, watching the endless procession of lines,
Hart suggested: "What about a game of pinochle? That
looks like at least a couple of hours. "
"Sure," Claire agreed. "Get Frank to make a third while I
rustle up some beer. I'm in no hurry, and it's only fair to give
the kids a break."
"Big heart!" Hart grinned. "But this is one time you're not
pocketing my dough. Meet you under the cover back of the
At eleven o'clock, it was he who went to reconnoiter.
"We'll be here all night if we don't get in line," Hart told
them. "Looks like eight thousand of the eight thousand
Catholics in the 27th have decided to go to Confession . . .
and every one of 'em's picked tonight."
They took their places in the moving lines where rank
gave them no precedence.
Hart got into the line leading to Lynch's box. When he
had finished his Confession and received Absolution, he was
amazed to hear the priest say, behind his opaque screen:
"It's Colonel Joe, isn't it?"
"Yes, Father," Hart said.
"Your breath smells good," Lynch chuckled.
Hart was embarrassed. "We played pinochle while we
waited. It's a dry game without beer." And then he had an
idea and leaned forward to whisper. "Say, Father, you've
been at it quite a while. I don't suppose . . . you wouldn't
like . . "
"I certainly would," Lynch said, "but only if you can snag
eight cans and if you get 'em here before midnight."
"You got a deal, Father. Ten minutes?"
"Ten minutesin back of this confessional," Lynch said.
It was exactly ten minutes later to the second when Lynch
stepped out of the sizzling, narrow box and faced the long
lines of men still waiting in the rain. His cassock clung to
him, and sweat had wilted the white collar of it which was
the symbol of his order.
"Say, fellows," he raised his voice and heads swung around
to face him. "How about giving the priests a ten-minute
recess? They've been at it a good many hours. What do you
The shout which answered him was vociferous.
"Thanks. I knew you'd feel that way. Next man in each
line, step into the box and tell Father to come back here to
Lt. Col. Joseph Hart was far more concerned with his
pinochle losses that night than with the thought of that small
kindness to the eight priests whose parched throats ached
from long horns of low-voiced talk and prayer. He accepted
their thanks negligently after all, it was little enough he
could do and it caused him no trouble. He knew he had
brought them a bit of refreshment and relaxation; he had
delivered the beer and forgotten it. Later he was to remem-
Father John Byrne was utterly miserable. Stretched out on
his cot, suffering all the miseries of a head cold, his nose was
stuffed, his eyes watered, his head ached, and he sneezed,
or wanted to, every few minutes. He should be in hospital,
he told himself. He was sure he had a temperature; it was an
effort to move, but at least here he had the advantage of be-
ing alone with his misery. Sometimes he dozed, but mostly
he tried to sneeze.
He wasn't hungry; hadn't been for two days. He didn't
want anything . . . except to be left alone. When the half
door of his tent opened and slammed, it made his head hurt,
but he closed his eyes tight, deciding to ignore whoever had
been so inconsiderate as to intrude on his privacy. He kept
his head turned to the wall-though that was the side which
was most stuffed and he wanted to turn it to clear it. He
even pretended to be asleep, hoping whoever it was would
become discouraged and leave.
But nothing happened, and at last, curiosity got the better
of him and he turned.
Father Lawrence Lynch was stretched out on his camp
chair, legs before him, his dark eyes studying his muddy
boots, his arms folded across his breast. His poncho hung
over the door, making a pool of dirty water where it dripped
to the floor.
"Feeling kinda low, Johnny?" Lynch asked sympathet-
"Go away," Father Byrne snuffled.
"Sure. In a minute, but I've got to tell this to somebody.
And you'll appreciate it."
"Go away," Byrne said again. "Go pick on somebody your
size. I'm no hero. Never wanted to be no hero."
"I'm sorry about the cold, Johnny," Lynch said. "But
surely you can see how important it was?"
"I asked you real nice. Go away." Byrne managed to get
a veiled threat into it; he turned and faced the wall again.
"I'm going," Lynch said. "But you gotta listen first. This
one is on me and it's a corker."
"If it'll make you go, tell it, but fast, I wanna sleep."
"It's about that case of beer I offered. Remember?"
"How could I forget?" Byrne demanded, turning again.
"You ought to be black-listed. Making that kinda deal for a
"It'd almost be worth it," Lynch laughed. "I got a guy to-
day hasn't been to Confession for twelve yearseven though
I lost the case of beer to get him!" He laughed again, his
shoulders shaking. "A pal of his brought him to me made me
hear him right in the open in the rain where he could watch
and time me. When it was over, he claimed the case of
"Nuts/' Byrne snorted. "You never kept a guy more than
three minutes in your life. You wouldn't know what to say!"
"Four minutes and a quarter the soldier timed me out/'
Lynch said. "Of course, I had to take his word, but I guess he
was right at that. The guy I heard . . . he took up the time.
Byrne couldn't resist a grin. "Serves you right. Now, all we
need for poetic justice is you can't rustle the beer!"
"Oh, we'll get it all right," Lynch said.
"You cut out that toe stuff," Byrne snapped thickly. "It's
your pigeon and you're stuck with it. You leave me out. I
got nothing to do with you or it."
"But you've got a pal in the Navy . . /'
"And leave my friends out too. You go get your own
friends; leave mine be."
"Okay. If that's how you feel/' Lynch said. "I just thought
you'd like some of the credit."
"No. No. And double NO," Byrne sneezed. "I got all the
credit I want. It was your idea the men had to have an ex-
ample, but I got the cold, not you. Go away."
"If my Mom was around, she'd fix you up the wierdest
concoction you ever tastedhot lemon and sugar laced heav-
ily with rum. Then she'd smother you with blankets, and in
no time, you'd be all set. Want another blanket, Johnny?"
"No. Go away," Byrne repeated savagely. "I'm asking you
nice for the last time."
"When you get back to New York, will you go see my
The sudden shift made Father Byrne look up. "Huh?
What's that for?"
"You'll like Mom. You'll like Pop, too. And the kids. Will
you promise to go see them?"
Father Byrne was sitting up now, feet on the floor, his
misery forgotten as he stared at his visitor. "All right, Larry.
"The general called a full staff meeting today. I thought
you'd like to know."
"Like that!" Byrne said, starting to reach for his socks. "I
gotta get over this cold right quick. Look, don't tell any-
body . . ."
"Get back there," Lynch said, shoving him down flat.
"Why d'you think I took the trouble to bring you a sample
of Mom's concoction?" He reached deep into his pocket and
pulled out a bottle; he poured a dark brown mixture into a
tin cup and handed it to Byrne. "Drink it down fast," he
ordered. "It's not near as hot as it should be."
Father Byrne pulled back, refusing it, but it was forced
to his lips. "Drink it, I said," Lynch ordered. "I got your
friend over at the naval depot to fix it for you and if you
don't drink it, I'll tell him."
Father Byrne swallowed it because he had no choice.
When it was down, he gagged and shuddered. "That . . .
that's awful!" he choked. "Gimme some waterquick."
"Certainly not," Lynch said smugly. "You want to spoil all
my hard work? Now, turn over and go to sleep." Another
blanket fell on him, but as Father Byrne started to protest
again, Ly^ch said: "Slong/' and the door slammed after
The sick man lay still, forgetting even the heat of the extra
blanket as he tried to evaluate the news he had heard, but
before he could explore it thoroughly, he was in a deep, rest-
There was very little to distinguish the humid morning of
March 25, 1945 from any other morning on "Santo." The sun
was still buried deep beyond the horizon, shrouded in an
overhanging mist which enveloped ships rocking at anchor
in the harbor. In the predawn dimness, the water was smalt
blue. Later it would become ultramarine, and by noon, clear
cerulean. It lapped with gentle caress, a tender, swishing
sound against the sides of the ships; it spoke of indolence,
Those ships were not symbolic of peace but of war. Hun-
dreds of them rocked at the anchorage: APA's for assault
troops, cargo, arms for war; AKA's for limited numbers of
personnel, cargo, arms; KA's for cargo.
And with unceasing rhythm LCV's moved in and out from
the makeshift pier, covering the mile to anchorage, carrying
loads of men in faded blue denims to designated ships with
clockwork precision. The movement of the smallest assault
force into action is a major undertaking; the movement of an
entire army from its staging area to its point of contact with
the enemy is a gigantic operation.
Any one of the ships in convoy could be lost; therefore
every ship must carry its full complement of fighting unit,
just as each landing craft heading into enemy territory car-
ries its full tactical strength which makes it a complete group
ready and equipped to carry on a small guerrilla war of its
Personnel must be carefully distributed, with particular
emphasis on the needs of the men. The ratio of chaplains to
other officer personnel was far too small to permit two of
them to a ship, hence on navy ships with regular assigned
chaplains, army chaplains did not travel and there were
many ships which carried no chaplain at all.
Regiments had to be split up for easier distribution, and
in the shuffle, Father Lawrence Lynch found himself on the
APA transporting the 3rd Battalion of the 165th Infantry
Regiment, Lt. Col. Claire in command.
He watched the men load. Except for their rifles, there
was nothing about them now of the smart, uniformed soldier.
Their faded blue denim coveralls were anything but trim;
the web belt, containing first-aid kit, canteen of water, and
the deadly trench knife, anything but smart; in the A-bag
was stored toilet kit, clean underclothing, handkerchiefs; in
the B-bag, items to be stored in the ship's hold, now an extra
load to lug aboard.
Nothing more anonymous than faded blue coveralls; noth-
ing to distinguish one man from another, officers from men,
regiment from regiment, company from company, except the
enigmatic design on the back of each. A letter signified com-
pany, a number denoted rank.
OPEBATION ICEBERG. This was "Ix."
Where would it lead them? Where would it begin? How
many of them would return?
No point even hazarding a guess! This was the moment for
which they had sweated out weary hours, exhausting days,
unending weeks of preparation. This was the beginning of
the first leg of their journey to ... where? What? They
were primed, trained down like champions, keyed to the
ultimate pitch. No more griping now about nonessentials;
the griping had to take another form . . . just so long as
they could gripe!
As the sun began its rise from the sea bed, mist outlined
with incredible beauty the swiftly moving prows of ship
after loaded ship. Each found its appointed place in convoy,
leaving a churning wake behind as it moved out to the
deeper indigo of the ocean.
Men gathered to speculate, to wonder, to whisper ques-
"Keep your shirts on/' Father Lynch told the group sur-
rounding him in the stern of his APA. "I don't know any
more than you do. Operation Iceberg! It could be anywhere
but I bet a nickel we know within the hour."
He had barely finished when the warning navy whistle
shrilled and the blare of the public address system drowned
out all other ship's sounds.
"Now, hear this. Now, hear this!" Standard navy formula
for attracting attention, followed immediately by the clear,
familiar tones of their own Lt Col. Dennis Claire.
"This is Claire speaking. I know you're all anxious to know
wliere Operation Iceberg is taking us. Well, men, you'll be
interestedand proud,, I know to learn that the 27th Di-
vision has been committed, along with several other di-
visions, to the most important spot in the whole Pacific
campaign." He paused, to give them time to digest it "Our
target, men, is ... OKINAWA!" Once again that dramatic
"Some of you may not know what that means. Well, here
it is: Okinawa is one of the Ryukyu Islands, and the Ryu-
kyus are just about 400 miles southwest of the mainland of
The instance of silence was followed by a combination of
shouts, whistles, yells of relief from the tension of uncer-
Claire continued: "Starting within two hours, and for the
balance of this trip, you will be briefed on everything we
know about Okinawa. You will be kept informed, as much as
possible, of plans and details of Operation Iceberg, how the
campaign is to be conducted, and the part you and your
company will play in it.
"You will be issued an orientation pamphlet immediately.
Study it carefully . . . all of it. Learn the words in it they
may help to save your life. Learn the geography of the is-
land you'll find in it ... this may also help to save your
life. Don't waste time now; study the pamphlet and the other
details you will be given to learn.
"Remember, men, this is the closest any army unit has
drawn to Japan. I don't think the Japanese will like it one
bitl But it shows the confidence the high command has
placed in the 27th Division!" He gave them a moment for
another shout before he went on: "Study your pamphlet
and in that way, begin on the campaign immediately!
"All officers will report to me at once in the Ward Room.
That is all."
By the time the convoy made rendezvous at a tiny
U-shaped atoll called Ulithi, every soldier had memorized
each one of the twenty-two possible plans of operation for
the invasion and taking of Okinawa.
Some of the ships lay at anchor two days, some three,
others longer, depending on which were sent in first, and
during those days, chaplains, ferried in water taxis, made it
a point to visit every ship which carried none. Catholic chap-
lains, in particular, visited those ships whose chaplain was
non-Catholic in order that the men on them might go to
Confession and hear Mass.
Few men recalled details of the landing on Okinawa. In
many ways it was no different from other landings, except
that it was Easter Sunday, 1945, and it had been more ter-
rible, bloodier, more costly in men and equipment. But the
beachhead was secured, and following the stagger system
worked out to insure against troopships becoming open
targets for enemy planes, the ships came to anchor within a
mile of the beach to discharge their complement of men,
leaving immediately after the last man dropped over the
Then came orders for the scattered companies and bat-
talions of the 165th to meet at the assembly area, to become
a regiment once more. The rendezvous marked the end of a
long, hot, sticky inarch straight across the center of the is-
land, over narrow, dirt crossroads running from east to west,
roads which skirted the great mountain range and jungle in
the middle of the island.
It had been a long time since they left "Santo." It was good
to greet old friends, shout familiar names, pummel old bud-
dies. Lt Col. Hart watched his men, gauging their temper.
The smooth machine of war which had been welded on
"Santo" was functioning perfectly, every man in his ap-
pointed place, or at least standing close to where he should
Every man? The executive officer frowned as he realized
suddenly that Father Lynch had crossed in front of him three
times, going from one small group to another and being
hailed at each with enthusiasm. His coat had a strange sag-
ging look, and Hart was thunderstruck as he saw the priest
dig into the deep pockets and dole out chocolate bars to the
men. He wondered where Lynch had gotten them.
He and Dennis Claire had discussed the remote chance of
getting chocolate bars for the men, and each of them had
made exhaustive inquiry on the ship on which they traveled,
with no success.
It was no longer coincidence that Lynch crossed in front
of him, Hart decided, as he watched soldiers accept grate-
fully the refreshment handed them by the priest, while his
mouth watered for it.
Lynch was in front of him for the seventh time when Hart
snapped, "Father Larry!"
"You want me, Colonel Joe?"
"I want to know what gives?" Hart said, but the priest
opened his eyes in bewilderment. "Don't give me that inno-
cent look. Where in hell did you get them?"
"I don't understand," Lynch grinned. "Is anything
"All right since you insist on playing games. Am I a step-
child or just an orphan? Don't I rate? I'm just another guy
and I still want to know where you stole them."
"Poor Colonel Joe/' Lynch said. "You sound thirsty! Your
voice sounds sorta hoarse, like you needed something to
drink, something cool and refreshing."
Hart laughed. "All right, Father. You don't have to turn
the knife; just take it out. I'm all through with it. Go along
with you and make believe I didn't ask."
Lynch nodded judiciously. "You are thirsty! Beer, now. I
hear it's right good for thirst."
"You . . . you . . ." Hart gagged, his face red. He took
a deep breath and changed what he almost said. "Father,
don't you know it's a mortal sin to torture a man, especially
when he's down already?"
Lynch chuckled, reaching deep into the voluminous
pocket. "Yep, guess you're right at that, Colonel Joe." His
hand came up ... and in it a can of beer. "I owe you this
one," he grinned.
"Where . . . where ... for the luwa God! Where'd you
get it?" He stared at the can of beer in his hand as though
he feared it would vanish. "You . . . you don't owe me . . ."
His protest was halfhearted, but he had to make it.
"Remember the Mission on Santo? You saved eight lives
that night," Lynch recalled.
"I searched every ship ... I tried to get one sip of beer
. . . I'd have sworn there wasn't one drop of it within a
thousand miles of here or Ulithi!" But Lynch wasn't there.
He had moved on to the group of men who waited, hoping
against hope that the deep pockets still held enough choco-
late to go around. Instead Lt. Col. Dennis Claire stood, eyes
and mouth agape, staring at the can Hart held.
"Where in merry hell did you get that?" Claire demanded.
"You've been holding out! You . . ."
"He gave it to me," Hart said, his head indicating the fig-
ure of the priest moving with jaunty stride on the other side
of the road. "Don't ask me where he got it. He says he owes
it to me. He . . ." Suddenly Hart's attitude changed. "So
okay. Don't ask where he got it. Thank God for itand open
Claire punctured the can with his trench knife, extended
it to Hart, but he shook his head. "No. You take first crack
at it, but mind you Dinny, take it easy." And as Claire lifted
the can to his lips, Hart added, with a shake of his head:
"Like you said once we got us a chaplain!"
The first mission assigned the 165th Infantry Regiment on
Okinawa was to protect the center-island peninsula from
air raids, paratroop landings, and counter beach landings by
the Japanese. Another milk run! Another dead end! Three
days of nothing to do; well, practically nothing. Leave it to
them to draw a blank while other outfits saw action, had all
At last, they were ordered to move up to their assigned
positions for attack. Their objective: Take Machinato Air
Between them and the airfield were mountain fastnesses
filled with ridges, ranges, caves behind which Japanese snip-
ers, sharpshooters and machine gunners waited; other ranges
sheltered the heavy artillery.
The front line faced that series of fortified positions. It
was their job to clean out the nests that protected the airfield
for land-based planes before the 165th Infantry Regiment
of the 27th Division could hope to complete its mission.
As long as that airfield remained in enemy hands, Amer-
ican forces were at the mercy of the Japanese by night.
Heavy artillery could pound and pound and pound, secure
in the knowledge that no aircraft carrier would be sacrificed
to kamikaze fighters.
Machinato indispensable to the Japanese, essential to the
The Japanese had worked out a neat system of counter-
attack: beginning with the first sudden black darkness of
night came bombardment, centered on the target and sus-
tained until the first glint of dawn lit the skies.
During the day, inch by inch, foot by foot, cave by cave
the American front line advanced southward. No man knew
where he might be when night fell and the bombardment
started. Every man learned to keep one eye on the sun; he
needed no order to begin digging as soon as it began its dip
toward the horizon. There, in the tiny hole, he would sweat
out the hell-on-earth of darkness for one night, unless it hap-
pened to be in the line of fire for the night.
John Bullion, Allan Hall, and Rube Henson considered
their foxhole comparatively cosy, though it was on C hill,
and their mission was to guard the command post.
They knew the score. They were from the intelligence and
reconnaissance platoon, and they knew with what uncanny
accuracy the enemy could pick out the C.P. Their radio kept
them in close touch with the observation post, just forward,
but it was the C.P. behind them they had to worry about.
None of them would willingly admit to being scared; after
all, luck had a lot to do with it. All the same, the record of
direct hits on foxholes manned by C.P. guards was uncom-
"I got a idea if I knew how to pray, maybe I'd do some
right now," John Buhlan said, eyes alert, ears aching from
listening for the first whistling shell, every sense wondering
where it would land.
"That makes it unanimous/' Allan Hall said grimly. "But
all . . ." He stopped abruptly, gun at the ready.
"Don't shoot/' Father Lynch slid down into the hole with
them, and they stared at him as they might have stared at a
ghost. Time was running out; the red orb of the sun had al-
most touched the sea, When it did, darkness would follow
suddenly, like a light going out. The show would begin . . .
and this man had no right to be here! "Thought you'd like
some chocolate and smokes," Lynch said, digging into those
"You better get outta here, Padre/' Rube Henson's Ten-
nessee drawl was more pronounced because of his fear.
"Hit's gonna get hottern hell 'round these parts right soon."
"Scared?" Lynch asked.
"Green!" Rube admitted.
"You too, Johnny?" John Buhlan simply nodded, but Allan
Hall tried to grin; it wasn't successful.
"Like Rube says, Padre. You get back fast."
The priest glanced around the foxhole, at the machine
gun, at the gun's crew, at the small radio. "Don't suppose you
brought any of your favorite pin-up girls out here with you,
so I brought you one."
It was Rube Henson who laughed. "You want we should
bring our wimmen into this?"
"This one is right handy to have around," Lynch smiled.
He gave each one of them a small square picture, a copy of
the Hodegetria, and ignored their varying responses as
he said: "Her name is Our Lady of Perpetual Help and
that's a name she said we were to call her. She's a sure bet in
a jam, and I figured since you're in a bit of a jam right now,
you'd better have her in your corner."
Allan Hall shifted uneasily, his eyes going from the priest
to the fast disappearing sun. "Padre, this crew . . . we ain't
none of us ... you go better go back, sir. And what I was
trying to say is, we're none of us Catholics."
"Did I ask you?" Lynch grinned. "Bet you she won't
either. The letter on your dog tag is too small for her to
read, and anyhow, if you get her working, looking after you,
she won't have time to look at the dog tag at all! Even if she
did, 111 bet she wouldn't care a hoot. All you've got to do is
to tell her you're in a tight spot and . . ."
"So they think well get it tonight for sure?" John Buhlan
asked, his worst fears confirmed.
"No use kidding ourselves/' Lynch said. "They seem to
come closer every night; almost like somebody is giving them
"Or maybe somebody just puts a pin on a map and says
here's where the C.P. is tonight/' Allan Hall said bitterly.
Lynch nodded. "That's why I figured it might be a good
idea to have Our Lady standing by. All you've got to do is
ask her to keep her eyes on you. Just talk to her Jike she's
somebody you know and trust. YouVe got to believe in her,
and 111 bet each one of you a nickel she won't let you down."
"You got a bet, Brooklyn/* John said.
"You better get outta here!" Rube warned. "Git-goin',
Padre. We got enough to do without worryin' about you."
^Right," Lynch said, climbing up the side of their hole.
"But remember what I said. Have faith in her, and just leave
it to her. She'll take care of you."
The first whine-boom of a shell falling some distance away
warned him that he had been almost too late. As he crawled
on his belly, trying to reach the command post, it made him
think of the many times when, as a child, he had crawled
away from the cemetery, his hand clutching tired flowers
taken from a grave to place before the small statue of the
Virgin in his room. He remembered how the votive candle
made the small figurine look alive; and his lips moved in
prayer while his knees moved over the rough, muddy
"Beloved Mother of Perpetual Help ask your Son for this
great favor. Bring those three boys through this night safely.
Let me give to them who have no faith a testimony of my
faith in you and your powers of intercession with your Be-
loved Son. He can refuse you nothing. Help me to help
them. Watch over them through what is to come . . . keep
them safe, and whole . . /*
His prayer was cut through by the screaming shell, and he
knew he had to hurry. Darkness was deep and full over the
land, except where it was rent by streaks of sharp blue light
when shells exploded and burst
All hell had broken loose. Behind him, Father Lynch saw
that shell after shell landed closer and closer to the nerve
center of the unit the command post and closer still to the
foxhole that guarded it.
Inching his way along the muddy, broken ground, Father
Lawrence Lynch became disoriented. He belonged at the
Aid Station, but where was it? He was behind the barrier
now, and as he hurried forward in the blackness, he bumped
with furious impact into another man- They spoke simul-
*Tm sorry," Lynch said, "I didn't see , . "
"Goddamn it!" Lt GoL Hart snapped. "Where in hell you
The cacophony was deafening. The enemy had found its
target for tonight; they had located the command post and
trained heavy artillery exactly on the mark.
"Looks like they picked us dead to rights this time," Lynch
said. "It'll be a tough night."
"Not a doubt of it," Hart said. "Get back to the Aid Sta-
tion and stay there! You hear me, Father? Get back where
you belong" Shells were bursting rapidly now.
"Seems to me you better get a move on yourself, Colonel
Joe. This one will be no picnic."
"That's one reason I want you at the Aid Station. Not many
of them will come out alive, but those that do will need
"Right. So kneel down and I'll give you General Absolu-
tion. You'll be glad to have it before this night's over."
Hart knelt on the ground and began to unfasten the safety
catch of his helmet as another shell whistled and exploded,
spattering them with mud.
"Don't take it off, Joe," Lynch stopped him. "If Jesus Christ
Himself got caught in this thing, He'd keep His own helmet
on. The Lord will understand." He raised his right hand in
benediction, but only part of the words could be heard.
"Ego te absolve* db omnibus censuris et peccatis, in nomine
Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, Amen''
"Thanks, Father." Hart scrambled to his feet as another
shell landed. Father Lynch turned, but the officer grabbed
his arm. He had to shout to make himself heard. "Now, where
the devil you think you're going. Get to the aid station.
That's an order!"
"Yes, sir," Lynch said, saluting. "Okay, Colonel, but just
you see you don't pick up any of that shrapnel they're
bandying about. We need you around these parts!"
In the foxhole where the three men manned a machine
gun with orders to defend the command post from direct at-
tack, things were getting hot. Each screaming shell ex-
ploded closer than the last, and the men cringed back as it
passed directly overhead, waiting for it to drop.
"God Almighty! That one was close!" John Buhlan
"The gun's getting hot," Hall said.
"Us had oughta get outta here/' Rube Henson shouted.
"Ain't no use stayin' jest ter git killed."
"No. Orders are we stay. Look outl Here she comes!'*
This one exploded so close, their hole shook, and dirt
spattered down on them. BuMan cursed with monotonous
regularity. "Damn them to hell, Damn . . ."
"We got us all the hell we want right here/' Allan said.
"There's a cave back of us about eight feet. Nellie's got to
cool off; if we get her in there, we can hold off anybody tries
to move up. And she's getting too hot to handle now."
"We cain't make it nohow. Dey be t'rowin' the book at
"The blasted, dirty bastards," Buhlan said. 'It's Nellie they
want. They know we got 'em covered."
"Should lift in a few minutesif my watch is right. That'll
give us just two minutes," Allan figured. "Time enough to
make a run for the cave."
"You-all done change yo* mine 'bout movin* out?" Rube
"Can't defend the C.P. if we're dead ducks. And like
Allan said, Nellie's got to cool. Hey! It's lifted. Let's get
Without a waste motion, John lifted the radio, Allan the
machine gun, and Rube the ammunition and everything else
he could grab, and they scrambled madly out of their fox-
hole, running for the cover of the cave behind them as
enemy machine gunners sent a fusillade after them, missing
them by inches . . . probably a signal to the artillery, be-
cause they were barely within the cave when they saw their
foxhole become a mound of rubble in the glare of a bursting
"Jesus H. Christ!" John screamed. Rube, his eyes wide,
said fervently, "Hell-damn!" and began to distribute the
items he had salvaged.
As they moved deeper into the cave, John whistled. "Holy
cats! Lookit. We're right in with the other zombies!"
Their refuge was an elaborate burial vault, lined with
beautiful carved shelves around the walls. On these were
stacked ornate urns magnificently scrolled and gorgeously
"Dey ain't gonna hafta bury us'n," Rube shivered. "Dey
is on'y . . ." The rest of his words were blotted out in a
burst that spattered dirt, debris and shrapnel into their cave.
The concussion threw all three of them hard against the
wall, knocking over gold urns that held bones and ashes.
"They hit the gun! They hit the gun!" John screamed,
running to it and beginning to collect the scattered parts
for all the world as if lie could put it together again, while
he shouted over and over again: "They hit the gunl They
hit the gun!"
"My shoulder!" Allan moaned, "It ... got me ... in
The moan brought John to his senses. "Lemme seel" he
commanded, beginning the search for blood and shrapnel.
He lifted Allan's arm, moved it gently and dropped it.
"You're okay," he grunted, and turned toward Rube, aware
of his silence.
The Tennessean stood against the wall, mouth open at a
grotesque angle, eyes terrified. A dreadful, choking sound
issued from his throat as he tried desperately to speak. He
pointed helplessly toward his jaw. John stared, but sud-
denly, the unintelligible sound made sense to Allan. The
force of the blast had shocked Rube into a temporary lock-
"Sock him! Sock him, John!" Allan shouted. "Sock him
hard on the jaw."
John stood uncertain until Rube himself pointed to the
spot; he obeyed. Rube grunted his thanks as his mouth ad-
"We better call C.P.," Allan said, trying to work the radio.
Another blast hit the cave entrance. When the smoke and
dust had cleared, he added: "Guess C.P. will just have to
worry along without this section of the platoon. Antenna's
gone. She's out"
"Looks like the bastards know we made it in here," John
said, teeth chattering. "We better dig in . . ." But they
could not seem to dig in far enough to get away from the
mortar nest which pelted them, just out of rifle range. "If we
could get Nellie working . . ."
"Seems like as if that Lady Brooklyn wus tellin' us 'bout
is gonna git on de job, she better git mighty fast/'
"Huh?" Allan looked up, startled. "Say, that's right. But
he said we ... we got to ask her. Didn't he, John?"
"Don't look at me/' John said. "I don't know nothing about
"Brooklyn ain't say nothin* 'bout no pray!" Rube said,
angry. "He say you gotta talk t' the dame. He say like she's
somebody we know. I ain't doin' no prayin' for nobody." He
pulled the badly wrinkled picture out of his pocket, looked
at it earnestly and said, simply, "Ma'am, if you-alTs alistenin'
like Brooklyn done say you is, we's in a jam right this min-
ute. If you-all's gonna do somethin' about it, hit better be
right now on account o'them Nips is sure raisin' all heU wit
John nodded. "That's it, Lady. You heard him. Like Rube
says, if you're gonna be in our corner, you gotta hurry up."
Allan stared at them both a moment, shook his head and
looked up at the cracked roof of the cave. "Padre said we
can't lose, if you back us," he said. "We mean it, Lady. He
said we hadda ask you. Well, we're asking you right now.
We're in a bad spot and we need help."
"We sure is, Ma'am. You-all better do somethin' right fast,
else we is gonners."
The next shell came at that moment. It landed just beyond
the cave's entrance, blocking them in completely.
Usually, when the night's work was almost done, when the
first pink threads of light crept over the bottom of the world
to throw a glow at the dingy sky, the salvos began to slow
down . , . until that token shot came . . . one final de-
fiance before the big guns slunk back into hiding to await
the darkness that gave them courage to prowl again.
Nothing remained of the command post but a flattened
heap and a wide, ugly gash in the hill. On another hill site,
defiladed even from possible ricocheting of shrapnel, was
the aid station, a humming beehive of activity. Litter bear-
ers, leg muscles protesting, climbed and reclimbed the
escarpment, going slowly, carefully with their burdens,
stumbling blindly with exhaustion on the way down.
Inside the blacked-out tent doctors worked furiously,
nurses moved fast and faster. In and out, sometimes nurse,
sometimes litter bearer, always priest and chaplain, Father
Larry Lynch seemed to be everywhere.
A private had given him his own coverall, mud-spattered
and bloodstained, when the priest's blue denim shirt was
torn from his back in the night; but men who felt his hand
on their foreheads and heard his soft, tender voice recog-
nized the square face under the layers of dirt and grime,
which hid the tired lines etched deep around his eyes but
not the famous grin.
Four litter bearers paused for a smoke. "Hey! Couple of
you guys. Get out there fast. There's a kid been hit . . ."
One of them snarled: "Why in hell don't you get out there
yourself and see what it's like?"
"Because I've got work to do in here/' the priest snapped.
"There's . . ." He stopped and grinned in sympathy.
"There's a guy I've got to see inside," he explained.
On a nearby cot a young soldier, face half -hidden by
bandages, heard and looked up, interested. He recognized
Lynch and tittered. "Hey, Turk! Pipe this!" he called, and
his voice carried so that many heads turned to watch and
It was what the litter bearer neededand he played to his
audience like the trouper he was. "Well, now, do tell! Well,
bud, visitin' hours don't begin yet. And who the goddam hell
put you in charge of the litter-bearer detail?"
A flash of anger blazed in Lynch's eyes, but his voice was
quiet, controlled. "I ordered you to go get a wounded
man . . .**
Another of the men guffawed. "Listen to him! Say, pard,
who hopped you up? And whoinhell you orderia around?"
"Atta boy, Mike. 'At's tellin* him," a third man approved.
Lawrence Lynch deliberately turned his back so that the
men could see his insignia and calling, and a shout of laugh-
ter from the cots greeted him. Immediately he realized what
caused it, and looking into the one good eye of Geof Haggar,
the boy who had recognized him, he winked. His grin had
a gamin quality when he again faced the four litter bearers.
The sick men were enjoying the show; he meant to give
them their money's worth.
"Say sirwhen you address an officer!" he ordered.
"What'd you get permoted to general? Sir!" Turk made
an expressive noise, and Haggar howled with laughter.
"Oh, I think captain's good enough/* Lynch snapped, and
couldn't resist a glance at the laughing men on the cots. A
doctor came to see what was happening; with him was the
sergeant whose responsibility was the litter detail. Lynch
grinned at him. "Hi, Bernie. Where'd you get this choice
"From the 96th, Father. We hadda borrow *em . , ."
The man called Turk almost swallowed his cigarette. He
jumped up. "Gripes! Didja say . . . Is he . . , ? Oh, my
God!" he ended on a moan.
Lynch led the roar of laughter, while the litter bearers
stood stiff. Turk saluted. "I ... I ... Father, I'm sorry . . ."
Lynch grinned at him. "Forget it, Turk. The joke's on me
and youVe given these guys the best medicine in the
world. What about it, fellers?" he turned to ask the cots, and
was answered by a shout. "So that makes it okay with me.
Now, what about that boy out there? Come onbut I'd like
to talk with you boys later," he ended on a laugh, leading
the way out.
They couldn't keep up with him as he hurried through
the sick, gray dawn, deliberately unseeing of the awful
horrors around him as he searched for the place where one
foxhole had been. He stumbled over shell craters, yawning
holes, debris and litter. Here at last, and where it had been
nothing. But at least no bodies or parts of bodies either.
His prayer was short as he headed for the blocked cave en-
trance. "Mother, help. Help me . . . Mary, Mother of God,
help . . . Lady of Perpetual Help."
He used hands and keif e to claw through the rubble, call-
ing to litter bearers to help him dig an opening into the
cave; he climbed over great rocks and small stones, slipping,
ripping his coverall and bruising his knees. In the cave's
dimness he saw them three men huddled close together.
"Deo Gratias!" he whispered, then raised his right hand in
the sign of the cross over them. "Benedicat uos omnipotens
Deus, Pater, et Filius et Spiritus Sanetus, Amen" His dirty
face, black in the cave's dimness, grinned at them. "What're
you guys doing? Breaking up housekeeping?"
Rube Henson untangled himself, moved forward stiffly,
hand extended. "Here's your nickel, Padre. Been holdin' it
near two hours now. That Lady of yourn shore was on the
job all right!"
Lynch nodded. "I knew she would beif you asked her."
"We asked her, all right," Allan said. "And, like Rube said,
she came through. Funny thing, Padre," he said, shaking his
head, "before . . . heck we were gonners sure. Then the
shell hit outside there. The Nips kept coming closer and
closerbut we just sat there smoking."
"That's right," John said. "We wasn't none of us scared
"I know," Lynch said. "She never let me down either,, All
you've got to do is ask her and believe in her." His eyes
wandered around the shambles of the cave, saw battered
remnants of the machine gun, the radio, the scattered urns
gleaming and glittering in the rubble, many of them dented,
most of them emptied of their once-revered contents.
''You've got the show place of the island here/' he grinned.
"Bet you re visited by every brass hat in town! They'll want
to know how you fixed it to keep whole, Take my advice and
don't bother to police up ... at least till they've seen you."
He was right. Col. Gerard Kelley, commanding the 165th
Infantry Regiment, made it a point to visit that cave. He
looked at the men as beings from another world, living
ghosts, or-as their buddies preferred-zombies. There was
no physical explanation of how they escaped with their lives,
much less with whole bodies, but whenever the subject was
discussed in their presence, the three men looked at each
other and said nothing.
Only once did any of them mention it aloud. Rube startled
a group of men at mess when, in an unexpected silence, his
voice was heard with its Tennessee drawl: "All you-all gotta
do is ask the Padre's Lady. She'll fix it right!"
The objective of the 165th Infantry Regiment of the 27th
Division remained Machinato Air Field. Every man knew
that until it was taken, the terrible, nerve-shattering bom-
bardment would go on and on and on with only those two-
minute intervals between salvos while the enemy artillery-
Two minutesbut time enough to switch foxholes, dig
deeper, run to another cave. Two whole minutes . . . un-
less of course, the enemy discovered a live shell in his hot
gun. Then the two-minute respite might be reduced to sec-
onds during which a live shell might catch an unwary
American soldier out in the open.
For eleven cruel days of fighting, the 165th inched for-
ward. Each afternoon, at the staff meeting called by Col.
Kelley to plan tomorrow's campaigna plan based on today's
fighting, last night's bombardment, tonight's possible target
a different battalion was selected to bear the brunt of the
next day's assault.
Always, on the fringe of the planning group, Larry Lynch
waited, unofficial, tolerated and ignored. But the moment
decision was reached, the moment he knew which of his
men faced the fireworks tomorrow, he moved swiftly.
April 24, 1945 . . . and the job for tomorrow assigned to
the Third Battalion. By the sound of it, casualties would run
Father Lynch waited only long enough to telephone the
command post of the Third to inform Lt. Col. Claire of his
impending arrival. His jeep bounced and jounced, but its
speed was reckless. There was so little time before the bom-
bardment would commence!
From one company group to another the jeep moved
and wherever it stopped, it became an altar, the precious
altar stone on top of the fiat radiator hood, the priest in front
of it, men kneeling around it men who might not see to-
morrow's sunset, receiving General Absolution and their God
in Holy Communion.
"Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi, merita beatae Mariae
Virginia, et omnium sanctorum, quidquid boni feceris, et
mali sustinueris, sint tibi in remissionem peccatorum, aug-
mentum gratiae, et praemium vitae aeternae, Amen.' 9
And because it had become known that wherever the
chaplain of the 165th Infantry Regiment went to say an eve-
ning Mass and spend a night of bombardment, there would
be the battalion scheduled for tomorrow's toughest job, the
men of the Third Battalion knew even before orders came
. . . and they were ready.
When the bombardment started, Father Lynch was near
the command post, watching, calculating where the shells
would fall, wondering how much closer they would come to-
night. Once, he started forward, but Lt Col. Claire grabbed
his arm and held it.
"Here! Where you think you're going?**
"Just out there to that foxhole. There's a guy there I gotta
see . . .
"You stay right here where you belong. There's the aid
station, right behind you. Get to it and stay there!"
"Goddamn them!" a voice close by snarled. "Seems like
somebody musta given 'em a tip-off we was gonna go get 'em
"Naw," another voice said. "They just figger we're the best
outfit in the division so they gotta pick on us."
"Last night they pounded hell 'n gone out of the 106th.
The bastards never quit till three o'clock. Hey, anybody
wanta make book on what time they call quits tonight?"
"Sure, I'll take four-thirty."
"They'll get tired and quit 'fore that Gimme midnight/'
Just beyond the foxhole Lynch had wanted to go to, there
was a glare and a burst. He made another move forward,
but Claire's eyes were on him and he stood back, arms folded
across his chest.
"Optimist. They never get tired. I want two o'clock/' an-
other voice said.
"You got it, Pat."
"They're driving me nuts!" young, high-pitched, fretful.
"How much the bastards think we can stand?"
"Take it easy, Fred/' from one. "Shut up, damn you/' from
The shell whizzed so close, they ducked. The sudden,
quick silence indicated the end of that salvo . . . and
through it, the piercing scream of a human being fading
agonizingly in the night.
"Father! Don't be a damn fool!" Claire clutched the priest's
arm as he started forward. "If you go out there, you might
be the next one. We need you right here."
"The boy is hurt . . . dying. I've got two minutes. Ill
give him Communion and be back before the next salvo be-
"Dammit, Father Larry. You heard my orders. The litter
bearers will bring him in. You belong in the aid station
where you can take care of all the casualties."
"You're wasting time, Dinny. That's Peter Sheridan one
of my boys. I can't let him die without the Blessed Sacra-
"How the hell can you know? It could be . . ."
"Colonel Claire!" The sergeant crouched at the telephone
in the command post foxhole held the instrument forward.
"It's Col. Hart, sir "
"Right/' Claire said, taking the instrument.
Lynch glanced at his watch. Thirty seconds wasted! Time
was running out the precious seconds between salvos. But
time enough left. He climbed swiftly out of the dugout where
the command post was located and crawled to the foxhole
from which the scream had come. He heard and ignored the
shouts behind him: "Padre! Come back!" Whoever the boy
was, whatever his religion, he was dying; he needed his
chaplain . . . and his chaplain hurried to him. Lynch
jumped into the foxhole; it was Peter Sheridan.
Father Lynch stood over the dying soldier, the Sacred
Host between his fingers lifted in benediction. He spoke the
words; "Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custo . . ." It
was as far as he got.
The live shell landed not far from the foxhole where one
dying and two wounded American soldiers lay. But two of
its shrapnel fragments landed with terrible accuracy: one
of them in the back of the chaplain of the 165th Infantry
Regiment; the other cutting a hole through the protecting
shield of his helmet , . . cutting through to make a deep,
ugly hole in his head.
The scream of the bursting shell was echoed at the com-
mand post, but no one knew afterwards who had screamed.
Lt. Col. Claire dropped the telephone receiver, ignoring
his superior officer at the other end of the line. He reached
Father Lynch's body almost as it touched the ground.
Gently, tenderly he forced open the clenched fingers,
forced them to place the sacred Viaticum on his own lips to
prevent its desecration.
The Japs were at it again, but the commander of the Third
Battalion was as oblivious of the shells as he was of the tears
on his own cheeks. He lifted the chaplain's body to his
shoulder, cursing while he prayed, overwhelmed and shat-
tered by a sense of immediate, personal tragedy, and filled
with the burning impotence which grips the living when the
dead were loved.
(continued from front flap)
services. It meant loud talking, occas-
siooal ^law breaking,'^ writing love
letters for his men to their sweethearts,
playing poker, and holding Missions
that kept men coming by the thousands.
Father Cyclone was indeed a mili-
tant Catholic ; but he was also eager to
help men of other faiths follow their
own desires. He was a man of men and
a man of God, who was cut down on
Okinawa by a live shell while admin-
istering last rites to a dying boy.
But the legend of his amazing ex-
ploits did not die. His story is one of
the most remarkable and inspira-
tional to come out of the War. What-
ever your creed, you won't put it down.
About The Author; Daisy Amoury re-
fers to herself as a "graduate of the
New York Herald Tribune" where she
wrote anything and everything, espe-
cially human interest. She has had
stories, articles and columns published
in Colliers, Coronet and -Gourmet Mag-
azine. Her travels have taken her all
over Europe, South America and the
United States. She has been a producer
of summer stock and a caterer. It was
as a staff writer for the "Ave Maria"
radio program that she first heard of
Father Lynch. After a small part of his
story was enacted on that program, she
realized that the surface had hardly
been scratched and undertook two
years of information-gathering and one
year of writing to put down the full,
true story. It was one of the most satis-
fying experiences of her life.
Printed in U.S.A.